Man’s Best Friend


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.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie —

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find — it’s your own affair —

But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept’em, the more do we grieve;

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long —

So why in — Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

Go here to Hot Air to read Jazz Shaw’s salute to his dog Max.  There is an old tale that when Adam and Eve were cast from the garden all the animals named by Adam turned their backs on them, except for the dogs who trotted out by their side into the Wilderness.

I find myself opening the door slowly when I come in, peeking around to make sure it’s clear. But Max will never bump his nose on the door again.

I finish eating and I find myself checking to see what’s left on my plate because I always saved something for him. But Max will not be having any more leftovers.

I wake up in the middle of the night to listen for his collar jingling, shaking his head as his signal that he once again needs to be carried out back with me in my bathrobe. But Max won’t be in the yard any more.

I check the weather map to see if rain is coming before his evening walk, because he hates going out in the rain. But Max won’t be going for any more walks.

I’m startled seeing the back door still locked after I came home from work. How could the back door be locked? Max was in and out the back door all day to go out in the yard and do his business. And then I remember.

Getting up in the morning, I head for his bed to carry him outside. But Max’s bed is gone.

Sitting here at my computer, I look at the end of the couch. Walter the cat is there sleeping in Max’s spot.

More to explorer


  1. I’m sorry for you Donald. As disloyal as it may seem I recommend finding a new companion. Chad died in 1997 and we rescued Sammie in 2011. My questions are: 1) who rescued who and 2)why did we wait so long 3)are we sure they don’t have dogs in heaven.

    They are certainly a gift from God to mankind. My wife’s Presbyterian pastor says if they aren’t in heaven he doesn’t want to go there. I must say that draws a certain sympathy. (don’t yell at me people, he is kidding).

  2. My dog is still alive Steve although aging and infirm. Whenever Baby exits this Vale of Tears my wife and I will probably mourn for about a year before getting a new dog, which is what we did after Josie died in 1999 at age 17.

  3. Opening your heart to love opens it to grief. Can’t stop loving, tho’
    Kind of weird and kind of sad that in Mr. Kipling’s time, 14 years was apparently considered an average lifespan for a dog; the minor fortune we spend on holistic food and topnotch veterinary care these days has not made any difference.

  4. Donald, Sorry for the misunderstanding. Thats what I get for trying to read it on my phone.

    I read it on the computer this morning. I’m less touched putting it into context.

  5. “3)are we sure they don’t have dogs in heaven.
    They are certainly a gift from God to mankind. My wife’s Presbyterian pastor says if they aren’t in heaven he doesn’t want to go there. I must say that draws a certain sympathy. (don’t yell at me people, he is kidding).”
    A Protestant minister once said that if we love our animals, they will surely be with us in heaven, as a tribute to perfect love.

  6. I know nothing more disconcerting than the look of blank astonishment with which a sheepdog – Border Collies at least – will sometimes greet one’s command.
    They obey, of course and then one realises that they were right – a vexing trait.

  7. I recently viewed the movie “Heaven is For Real”. A little boy Colton had a Near Death Experience and when he described heaven, he said that it was full of animals, and that everyone was young, and noone wore glasses, and everything was brightly colored and beautiful. He described Jesus physically and said that Jesus held him on His lap and spoke to him. Jesus’ resounding message….we should not be afraid.
    I thought of my beautiful little bijon frische Molly who died May 31, 2011 when I watched the movie and again as I read this post.
    There are few things that can make me cry so easily.

  8. 33 works for me. : )
    Here is what little Colton says Jesus looks like….
    The young woman who painted the picture also had visions of Jesus as a four year old.
    And finally, for those couples who have experienced a miscarriage…you will meet your baby in heaven. : )

  9. Dogs (for me) are definitely one of God’s best works.Anyone who has lost one (or on more than one occasion…) can identify with the heartbreak.My last lost dog,little Mary, was gone as I held her in my lap at the exact moment that Andrea Bocelli began to sing “Ave Maria” from “Sacred Arias” one Sunday morning a few years ago. I now have little Lena living with me (as well as Donnie the cat that I adopted) and I love her too.I pray sometimes that God will permit me to have my furry friends with me if I make it to heaven.

  10. So they say all the animals, (except the dog), turned their backs on Adam? And the cat’s reaction was…?…
    “I see the tall can opener and the short can opener both got kicked out of The Garden. meh.”
    (The link brought a bit of a tear to my eye too.)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: