It’s amazing what you start to think about when you are lying in bed with three dogs because they all decided to pitch a royal fit at 3 am and if they wake the neighbors up with their barking there would be hell to pay.
I started thinking about this painting.
It is called Attachment by Sir Edwin Landseer and it is my favorite painting, ever.
When I saw it for the first time at the St. Louis Art Museum I got a little teary. When I read the poem that was posted next to it, I was a wreck.
Helvellyn by Sir Walter Scott
I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Hellvellyn,
Lakes and mountains beneath me gleamed misty and wide;
All was still, save by fits, when the eagle was yelling,
And starting around me the echoes replied.
On the right, Striding-edge round the Red-tarn was bending,
And Catchedicam its left verge was defending,
One huge nameless rock in the front was ascending,
When I marked the sad spot where the wanderer had died.
Dark green was that spot ‘mid the brown mountain heather,
Where the Pilgrim of Nature lay stretched in decay,
Like the corpse of an outcast abandoned to weather,
Till the mountain winds wasted the tenantless clay.
Nor yet quite deserted, though lonely extended,
For, faithful in death, his mute favourite attended,
The much-loved remains of her master defended,
And chased the hill-fox and the raven away.
How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber?
When the wind waved his garment, how oft didst thou start?
How many long days and long weeks didst thou number,
Ere he faded before thee, the friend of thy heart?
And, oh! was it meet, that — no requiem read o’er him—
No mother to weep, and no friend to deplore him,
And thou, little guardian, alone stretched before him
Unhonoured the Pilgrim from life should depart?
When a prince to the fate of the peasant has yielded,
The tapestry waves dark round the dim-lighted hall;
With scutcheons of silver the coffin is shielded,
And pages stand mute by the canopied pall:
Through the courts, at deep midnight, the torches are gleaming;
In the proudly-arched chapel the banners are beaming,
Far adown the long aisle sacred music is streaming,
Lamenting a chief of the people should fall.
But meeter for thee, gentle lover of nature,
To lay down thy head like the meek mountain lamb,
When, wildered, he drops from some cliff huge in stature,
And draws his last sob by the side of his dam.
And more stately thy couch by this desert lake lying,
Thy obsequies sung by the gray plover flying,
With one faithful friend but to witness thy dying,
In the arms of Hellvellyn and Catchedicam.
Basically, dude goes hiking, dude falls, dude dies, dude’s dog stays by his side. And I think I saw somewhere that this was based on an actual occurrence.
Anyways, I love that painting and I love that poem. One year my mom got a 4×6 print of it and framed it, I cried when I opened it up. She said it was the cheapest thing she’d ever gotten me and apparently the best!
So yea, that’s what I was thinking about as I laid there with my three faithful companions.
I tried to think of what their reactions would be if I were to fall and die while hiking (and let’s be honest here- this is a very likely scenario, I’m not known for my grace and spacial relationship abilities) and they were with me.
I thought first of Ginger, oh sweet Ginger. The dog whom I saved from a certain death in the middle of the street on a cold February evening. The dog who I hid from my landlord. The dog who I fed canned vegetables to because the free dog food from a vet friend didn’t go that far and I was pooooor.
Ginger would surely stay with me. She loves to sleep next to me.
Wait- if I’m honest, Ginger really just likes having a foot to lick at any moment it strikes her fancy to lick a foot. She has no particularly overwhelming love for me. She’s fond of me, sure, but outside of that I think it’s just a cursory affair.
Hmmmm. I still think she’d stay with me but once my skin started tasting “off”, as many decomposing bodies do, I think she’d go find greener pastures.
On to Ninja. She totally would stay with me. Why wouldn’t she? She was out in the savage world of Interstate 75 until a friend of our’s picked her up and brought her to us. I’ve cared for her, fed her, played with her, fed her, retrieved batteries from her mouth before she kills herself, fed her. Surely, surely! this puppy would stay with me.
Once again, if I’m honest with myself, there’s no way in hell she would stay with me. Scratch that- she totally would stay with me, up until the time she was done eating me. I would not be surprised if after I fell she’d sit there with a piece of glass waiting for the moment that it stopped fogging up with my breath and then she start gnawing off a toe. One can only hope she’d at least whittle my ass down before they found me.
Last but not least- Bronco. First off he is most likely to be the one with me while hiking in the first place, but sadly he is also the one who is just as accident prone as myself so really the fall and subsequent death could have been caused by him in the first place.
Case in point-
This picture was taken shortly before he tried to climb under the fence and off the cliff. There was a butterfly and apparently it needed to be investigated. So yea.
But I know he’d stay with me. As much as MrBunny is trying to convince me that he is slowly changing alliances- that dog is a momma’s boy.
Hell- I’ve cut his tail off twice now and he still has to be touching me at all times! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. Well it’s either love or insanity but I prefer to call it love.
He follows me to every room in the house and rarely leaves my side so I’m fairly certain that he’d stick by and keep me company as I died.
I love my dogs all equally but I think Bronco truly is the “friend of my heart”.
It should be noted that he has been using my ass as a pillow as I laid here writing this.
The painting is based on an actual story, I read about it many years ago and it has always stayed with me. As for your four legged kids, well doll they would all stay with you and not to lick your foot, or to gnaw on you or because one happens to be a Momma’s boy. Yes, your dogs would stay with you out of a sense of love, protection and profound sadness.