Of Dogs and Men

With apologies to John Steinbeck.

Boatswain

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below;
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, the foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
Who labors, lives, fights, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth.
While man, vain insect, hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole, exclusive heaven.
Ye! Who behold, perchance, this simple urn,
Pass on; it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones rise,
I have never known but one – and here he lies.

Lord Byron, “Boatswain”

Who says that we have souls and dogs none, anyway? The Bible? What kind of religion is that, then?

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7 thoughts on “Of Dogs and Men”

  1. I don’t think the Bible specifies either way whether dogs have souls. I suspect that they do. Heaven wouldn’t really be heaven without them.

  2. Well there is Saint Guinefort:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Guinefort

    (though the Catholic Church officially prohibits him)

    There is also the patron Saint of dogs:

    http://www.culturalcatholic.com/SaintRoch.htm

    I think most if not all churches today don’t believe dogs have immortal souls– certainly the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and at least 90% of Protestants. IMO screw that– dogs have souls. I think probably a very large number of laypeople in these churches do believe dogs go to heaven despite what their churches tell them.

  3. Btw, has anyone seen that one episode of the twilight zone where a dog dies with his hillbilly owner, trying to save him from drowning?

    They both arrive together in the afterlife and find a gate guarded by a man claiming to be an angel who welcomes them to heaven. The hillbilly tries to walk through the gates of heaven with his dog, but the angel stops him and says “no dogs allowed.” Then the hillbilly refuses to go to heaven without his dog and says he’d rather just stay in limbo. Then they walk down another road and come across another man telling them he’s an angel and welcomes them to heaven. The hillbilly is confused and tells him about the other man claiming to be an angel guarding the gates of heaven and the angel tells him that it was actually a demon trying to lure him into the gates of hell. Then the (real) angel tells him of course he can bring his dog to heaven.

    1. That’s an awsome story Ski. Plato called the dog a ‘Philosopher’ in its own right because the animal could the tell freind and foe apart. Anyhow I’m more of a cat person 😀

      1. I’m more of a cat person as well, but I love visiting other people’s dogs.

        One dog I know was very sweet about the death of our last cat. Lucy is nervous and shy around most people (she was abused as a puppy), and tends to run away from me. However, when we buried Romeo’s body in the yard, Lucy came and sat nearby, with an unusually quiet and solemn demeanor. Later that week she came and sat next to me for a long time, and even let me scratch her behind the ears. That was amazing, as she normally doesn’t tolerate so much as eye contact.

  4. This is the rest of the inscription:

    Near this spot
    Are deposited the Remains of one
    Who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferocity,
    And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
    This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
    If inscribed over human ashes,
    Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
    BOATSWAIN, a DOG
    Who was born at Newfoundland, May, 1803,
    And died at Newstead, Nov 18th, 1808.

    Boatswain was only 5 when he died. Isn’t that sad? I bet he was a great dog.

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