Monday, April 9, 2018

Doggie Dreams

Not long ago I had a dream. About a dog. 

I found it strange, because we haven't had a dog since we moved back to the city. It turns out I'm allergic to dogs, and so I limit my dealings with those of the canine persuasion  however winsome they may be.

But in this dream I had a dog. And apparently a group of people had gathered to watch my dog do his tricks.

The dog  don't remember the breed  just a dog  walked on his hind legs over to a blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk. Whereupon he wrote out several complex mathematical equations.

Of course, this was a dream, so I suppose an equation-writing dog didn't seem all that out of the ordinary.

Until a man in a tweed jacket turned to me and said (in a snooty-patooty voice), "You do realize, of course, that the dog doesn't actually understand the math...."

Whereupon I woke up  presumably from an adrenaline  rush triggered by this man's utter arrogance and stupidity.

Tweedy had so missed the point. Who cares if the dog understood the equations? I mean, I couldn't go to a blackboard and write out fancy-pants equations. (For me, long division is higher math....) And it was pretty darn impressive that this dog could do it  whether he understood them or not.

The moral of the story must be that dogs are sometimes smarter than people. 

I was reminded of this dream and this moral recently when I read an utterly enchanting book called The Poet's Dog, by master-storyteller Patricia MacLachlan. 

If the name Patricia MacLachlan sounds familiar, it's probably because she is the Newbery Award-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall

In this story, two children  Nickel and Flora  are lost in a terrible snowstorm but are rescued by an Irish wolfhound  named Teddy, who leads them to the cabin he had shared with his poet friend Sylvan. 

Through the days of their confinement together, the dog and the children share many confidences  for Teddy can talk  but only to children and poets. And if you had conversations with your dog as a child, you will know that this must be true.

Not since Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate diCamillo have I enjoyed a "dog book" so much. I am sure this is one of those books I will reread many times, with fresh pleasure in every reading.  

The children built a fire to keep warm in the cabin, to keep the howling, growling storm at bay. And in this story, MacLachlan has built a fire to warm our hearts in the long winter season of our souls.

So, Mr. Tweed Jacket, can you understand that?

Photo Credits:
     Dog Silhouette -- Public Domain
     Spaniel -- Public Domain
     Equation -- Collections École Polytechnique / Jeremy Barande
     Irish wolfhound -- Author: Tirwhan
     Fireplace -- Author: Fastily (TALK)


  1. Mr. Tweed Jacket will never understand...'cause he doesn't have what it takes...and he doesn't even know it or miss we'll just leave him be...

    Love your book reports. Thanks much.

  2. What a great concept of dogs talking to children and poets - as a dog owner my entire life, I can say they do have their own way of speaking to us, if we only take the time to pay attention. And so, Mr. Tweed, you must also recognie the amazing memory of a dog who can write mathematical equations, and the amazing dexterity of the dog to do it on a chalkboard. Give the breed some credit!
    1221bookworm of