This is hanba’s saddest post yet. Hanba will write another much happier blog post as soon as this one is done.
Hanba’s partner recently witnessed an event, which at first seemed cute. Eight small puppies were playing in a courtyard. They were clumsy and eager, sniffing at things, getting to know the courtyard and their own little legs. A crowd had collected around the puppies, following their tentative movements. After ten minutes, a small boy who had been in the crowd stepped forward, grabbed a fluffy puppy and started patting it vigorously. Suddenly the whole nature of the situation became evident. The puppies were on display, their cuteness was a marketing trick and the fate of this one particular puppy had just changed. A mighty human had chosen it. The boy started walking away, but the other puppies followed, barking, limping, howling, trying to figure out what had just happened to one of their sisters.
There is something sad about the relationship between the humans and dogs. The dogs give their lives to us, serving us loyally no matter how much well or poorly their masters may treat them.
In literature, hanba has come across two very existentially touching novels where this relationship is analyzed. In Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, the two main characters attend to their dying dog Karenin. The dog’s illness can be interpreted as a metaphor for the unhealthy relationship between Tomas and Tereza, the main characters. Finally they decide to put the dog out themselves, instead of letting the vet do it, because they feel it is their obligation. The loyal servant needs to die through the hands of the master. The master has to take the final responsibility of the servant. This also marked a kind of an end of Tomas’ and Tereza’s relationship.
In J. M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace, the main character David Lurie gets to know a dog caretaker. This lady has devoted her life to taking care of the street dogs in rural post-apartheid South Africa. Some of the sick street dogs she manages to cure, others she has to put out. It is a lousy job, but if she doesn’t do it, nobody will. The main character and the dog caretaker have a brief relationship. Getting to know the dog lady, Lurie witnesses a scene where a sick dog is put out.
I don’t know what it is with dogs, but they strike an existential cord with me. All the three stories above made me cry!