MIDWAY: Of dogs and men

To every dog, his master is a Napoleon,” Aldous Huxley, the famed English essayist, said. My dog’s no exception. Every morning, I take him (or rather he takes me) for a walk. His poise and confidence even in the increasingly chilly mornings is a source of much acrimony for his fellow quadrupeds ensconced in the towering houses. In response to Jeez’s raucous barking, they respond in kind, only annoying their masters. Jeez, actually, enjoys this. He straightens his ears to celebrate his success.

He never misses to have a crack at the big dogs either. Perhaps he has a little over-confidence in his master. History is, indeed, replete with examples of dogs’ cordial relationship with humans. The stylish English poet Lord Byron had a great fondness for animals, most famously for a Newfoundland dog called Boatswain. When Boats-wain contracted rabies, the poet reportedly nursed him without any fear of catching the infection himself. When Boatswain eventually died of rabies, Byron, immersed in melancholy, eulogised his dog in the poem An epitaph to a dog. A verse goes: “…who possessed Beauty without vanity/ Strength without insolence/ Courage without ferocity/ and all the Virtues of man without his vices.”

Another famous relationship was between an anonymous dog and ancient eccentric Greek philosopher Diogenes, who, it was rumoured, lived in a tub. The obsessive affair had prompted Aristotle to derisively call Diogenes a kuon (a dog). Diogenes, a humble man who preached simple and happy life akin to his dog’s, was roundly condemned wherever he went in Athens. But he, in the company of his beloved dog, lived a happy and fulfilling life. Even Alexander was envious: “Had I not been Alexander, I would have lived like Diogenes.”

As I pen this article under a sinking sun, Jeez sits beside me wagging his short tail as if he knows he’s my protagonist. Apart from his fidelity and frivolous spirit, I also prize his ability to read my erratic mind and act accordingly.

Gazing into the twinkling eyes of my furry friend by the side, I remember Franz Kafka’s famous refrain: “All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog.”