A poem: “Pyrrha,” by James K. Baxter

My husband’s aunt is very literate and excellent, and she sent us this poem she found in her collections, by the (apparently crazy and controversial) New Zealand poet James K. Baxter.

When you give your dog a name as strange as “Pyrrha,” it is equally strange and wonderful to stumble upon a mention of that name–even if the context has positively nothing to do with your dog.

For what it’s worth, here’s a strange poem with our dog’s name on it.

This Pyrrha? (“Pyrrha and Deucalion,” by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.)

By James K. Baxter

As kites rise up against the wind
Out of the past I summon Pyrrha,
Girl of plaited wheat, first
Mentor of love revealed in dying.

She has come back with a burning-glass
To whom once my thoughts clung
Like branches under weirs tumbling:
That freedom led to the lion’s jaws,
A mind riddled by illusion.
The autumn sky is hers, a flooding
Trick of light on bars of broken cloud.

The streetlamp tells me where she lived.
Re-entering that square, untidy room
Where cups lie mixed with fingerbones
I find her again. Forehead too full,
Opaque blue eyes, bruised archaic smile
Dug from under shards. Pleasure,
A crab gripping the spine;
A mouth lent, not given;
Hair like marram grass, that made
On the short sofa, a burglar’s tent.

Rib from my side, Pyrrha,
I who was young am older,
The wound healed, the flush of seed dry.
You cried once: “I am drifting, drifting.”
Self-pitying, too often drunk,
I did not see your need of comforting.
Pestle and mortar pounded us
Early to a dry volcanic dust.

Happy puppy
Or this Pyrrha?

She might be our “first mentor of/Love,” but I can assure you that she is NOT “too often drunk.” Our Pyrrha at least has that going for her.


Choosing a vet

Boy in Veterinarian's Office
Boy in Veterinarian's Office, Norman Rockwell.

Next on my list of things to do before bringing a dog home: Finding a local veterinarian. This one is also somewhat intimidating to me. I’m planning on asking friends with dogs who they’d recommend in the area, but beyond that, I’m curious what you think about how to go about this process.

What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective vet? What are some things to watch out for? How will I know to evaluate them if I don’t have a dog yet? Does anyone go to a vet who practices holistic or homeopathic medicine?

Still so many questions! And I’m, as always, grateful for your advice!

Pup links!

A young Beatrix Potter and her spaniel. LIFE Magazine.

A collection of dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Set Your New Dog Up for Success: Prevent Accidents and Fights. A great post by Lindsay about two important elements of bringing a new dog home: Setting and establishing house-training rules and preventing and mitigating any potential dog conflict. (That Mutt)

Are Too Many Vaccinations Bad for Adult Dogs? A thoughtful and informative discussion about the controversy over vaccinating our dogs. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, too, and it was nice to read such a balanced and fair article on the topic. (That Mutt)

Pet Fostering Is Tax Deductible! This is great news for those who foster animals. It’s something I’m seriously considering after we have a few years of dog parenting under our belts, and this new tax break is just an extra incentive! (Pawesome)

7 Ways to Make Your Pet’s Visit to the Veterinarian Easier. Simple and helpful tips to reduce the stress of a vet visit. (Paw Nation)

Ryan Gosling and His Dog Have an Announcement to Make. An important PSA from the most popular actor (at least on the Internet meme scene). (Pawesome)

Miss Kate. It is a beautiful thing to watch a border collie work. (BCxFour)

Georgia Fiennes: Dog Paintings. Lovely and whimsical (but not tacky) dog paintings from artist Georgia Fiennes. (Miles to Style)

Pup links!

Lauren Bacall has a heart-to-heart with her cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE Magazine

Just a few dog-related links for you this week! Some thoughtful pieces, though.

America’s Pet Frenzy. An entertaining and informative infographic that presents a thoughtful look at how much we spend on our pets. The numbers are pretty insane. Americans spent $48.3 billion on pets last year! Most interesting to me: Only 15% of Americans get pets from shelters. If 100% did, they’d save $2.4 billion. (Frugal Dad)

Dogs & Frostbite: Everything You Need to Know. If you live in a very cold area, this is a great article about how to prevent and treat frostbite in your dogs. (The Hydrant)

Blogger’s Stakes, Or How I Blew My First Competition. Veterinarian Dr. V. participates as a handler in her first dog show. A fun and really enjoyable post. (Pawcurious)

Dog Painting. No, I totally want this book, too! It would be the best coffee table book. (Ulicam)