The first to come and greet me when I go to heaven

Source: Pixdaus

“Gracie, do you know that I believe that the first to come and greet me when I go to heaven will be this dear, faithful, old friend Carlo?”

Emily Dickinson, on her Newfoundland, Carlo

Happy Friday, everyone!

Poem: “This little Hound within the Heart”

Model with a borzoi. Source: Mr. Harris Tweed

What shall I do–it whimpers so–
This little Hound within the Heart
All day and night with bark and start–
And yet, it will not go–
Would you untie it, were you me–
Would it stop whining–if to Thee–
I sent it–even now?

Emily Dickinson

My companions

Source: antipodeuse.blogspot.com

“You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself, that my Father bought me–They are better than Beings–because they know–but do not tell.”

— Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Thomas Higginson

Happy weekend, everyone! My productivity at work is totally shot today: My boss brought in his 4-month-old Pomeranian puppy, Immi. I will be getting nothing done today…

Review: Shaggy Muses

Shaggy Muses, by Maureen Adams

This book sounded like the perfect diversion from training and behavior books. I was an English major and wrote a honors thesis on Virginia Woolf and had previously loved Woolf’s “biography” of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel, Flush. I love reading about women writers–and women writers plus their dogs? What’s not to love? In Shaggy Muses, psychologist Maureen Adams looks at five great women authors and explores their complex and beautiful relationships with their dogs.

Adams discusses the relationships between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Flush, the much-beloved cocker spaniel; Emily Bronte and her mastiff, Keeper; Emily Dickinson and her sweet Newfoundland, Carlo; Edith Wharton and her various toy breeds, mostly Pekingese; and Virginia Woolf and her various dogs, especially the spaniel Pinka, featured on the cover of this book. (Pinka served as her role model for the character of Flush when Woolf was writing Flush’s biography.)

I found that the common theme of this book was this: Dogs helped these women through grief and loneliness. The life of a woman artist is rarely cheery, especially if you had the misfortune of being a woman artist in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The companionship of a dog, according to Adams, helped these women come out of their shells.

My only complaint with the book is through no fault of Adams’. Rather, it is difficult to know much about some of these women, especially the famously mysterious Emily Bronte, without speculation. Occasionally, I felt like Adams overstepped her bounds as an objective researcher, but she is a psychologist, so I suppose she can’t be blamed.

There are many beautiful and touching comments from these writers about their dogs, many of which I plan to feature here in the weeks to come. So, keep your eyes peeled. Overall, I’d recommend this book as a light and interesting overview of the ways in which dogs have comforted and cheered some of the world’s most gifted artists.

I started Early — Took my Dog

Source: Flickr, misspfui

I started Early — Took my Dog —
And visited the Sea —
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me —

And Frigates — in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands —
Presuming Me to be a Mouse —
Aground – upon the Sands —

But no Man moved Me — till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe —
And past my Apron — and my Belt
And past my Bodice — too —

And made as He would eat me up —
As wholly as a Dew
Upon a Dandelion’s Sleeve —
And then – I started — too —

And He – He followed — close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Upon my Ankle — Then my Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl —

Until We met the Solid Town —
No One He seemed to know
And bowing — with a Mighty look —
At me — The Sea withdrew —

Emily Dickinson