There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
-Rudyard Kipling ‘The Power of the Dog’
Last night Pepper was lying in front of the fire, watching TV, when Sara bent down to give her an affectionate stroke. Pepper wasn’t in the mood for petting and jumped up, biting Sara on the nose and refusing to let go. Unbeknown to me this was the second time she had drawn blood in a matter of days – the earlier incident had involved a delivery boy’s ankle. Pepper was a Jack Russell terrier. She had been hailed as a hero in the Daily Mail in October for raising the alarm when our house caught fire, (link) and in the annals of valiant Jack Russells came close to Sir Ranulph Fienne’s Bothie, who is the only dog to have stood on both the North and South Poles. Pepper is now no more, but we can remember her with the words of Lord Byron’s’ Epitaph to a Dog:
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies.