Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Observing the limp of one of those dear animals prompted me to share again this essay.

Previously published on 20/12/2007 at foolishnessntears.blog.com.

Making my way down the roughly beaten sidewalks of Seoul , causeways that must bear the tramp of human feet and motorcycles alike, I frequently see young children running up far ahead of their parents. Crime in Seoul is infrequent, but my nervous disposition tenses on seeing babes just old enough to run so mixed with the crowd.

A boy and a girl, perhaps four and five, were running with breathless haste one warm, summer night, when they passed by the pet shop I always go by on my way to and from work. Immediately, the boy stopped to look through the glass, and the girl threw her arms up in squeals of joy. I had to steal a glance myself at the puppies frisking about in the window.

Before then, some had been white and fluffy with large eyes of umber brown and sweet little snouts nosing against the window and occasionally each other. Some were motley coloured with eyes that were so unfortunately placed amidst long hair, that streams of brown muck run from the tear ducts down either side of the nose. Some have blunted faces, whilst others have no puppy fat but are already scrawny miniatures of the adult form to come. On this night, there were none but these specimens in the window, and a little girl was so overjoyed at the sight, that even this foreigner knew she was making inarticulate noises.

A little one that doesn’t love a puppy worries me, though perhaps one that doesn’t love kittens may be excused. For when a child begins to see the world in the context of loving, as well as being loved, animals play a pivotal role. However delighted a child is with human affection, these humans are not yet within his power for him to do them good of his own accord. He is given first dominion over his toys to love or abuse as he pleases. Girls cuddle and spank their dolls; boys cautiously steer cars through the legs of chairs and then crash them into the wall.

Amidst this world of artificial plush, a child may one day be introduced to something that moves. The first puppy placed in the arms of a littlie awakens him to new pleasures and terrible responsibility. The soft thing in his lap is too dense to be hefted in one hand; it has bones that cannot be squeezed and flesh that must not be pinched or bitten. With delight, the toddler sees that the creature is warm and moving.

Better than all the pretty dolls and painted trains is the being moving with a will of its own. However much the teddy bear was embraced, it never gave back a hug worthy of its name. Dolls with painted or embroidered lips never kissed their apprentice mother back, but now something reaches up with a curious wet snout and gives a warm lick to the owner’s mouth. The child sees not the face, but the warm eyes and wagging tail of its worshipper, and I pray God’s grace that he renders well back the love he is given.

Years ago, as I was organizing the children’s clothing in the store where I worked, I saw a customer pushing a stroller that had obviously been in the pet shop a floor above us. The little girl within, a pretty wee thing with blond curls, was not restlessly stirring about as her momma shopped, but contemplating something in her lap.

I saw a rather mucky mixture of black and brown fur sitting there. A little terrier (I assume) of some sort was glancing about, its bristling hair sticking out comically from all sides of its face. Certainly not a colour or make to intrigue the child in the sky blue jumper. It turned to her with its wet, nervously sniffing snout--the sort of thing one would paint on a goblin. Yet, she gently pet its back with her soft, plump hand. Tentatively, she lowered her chubby, little cheek to it. A stripe of pink showed against the black mouth, and it caressed her back with a furiously wagging tail. She smiled sweetly and took up her face to look at it again, oblivious to the brilliant colours and pretty dresses hanging about her, and stroked the animal as though it were cut glass.

Rarely have I seen two beings so contented with one another, and never could I have again said that a loyal dog was ugly, anymore than a loving face is displeasing. The gift is bestowed on us intact; it is we that sully and spoil it with our jaded derision. A special grace at a pivotal time is given in the face of a dog turned trustingly to a child, and a sorry outcome would be yet another instance of man's wretched Fall.

Creative Commons License
No Dog Is Ugly by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at foolishnessntears.blogspot.com.


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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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