Someone advised me once: “When you don’t know what to say, tell the truth.” The truth in this case, is that over the past few days I’ve had no desire to write. It’s not that I’ve been too busy celebrating Christmas or the New Year – when I celebrate, I always get the urge to write. No,in fact, my 14 year old dog suddenly began to age, and his elderliness stole not only my time and but also took the energy out of both of us. It might seem a bit boring, and I hope it is unnecessary to say at this point that ‘dogs are like family members, and that’s something only people with dogs can understand’, because what counts aren’t theories but specific situations. My dog, specifically, who means so much to my specific family. Also, there’s never any need to justify love, whatever form it takes.
Jack’s mother was a German shepherd, and his father was a husky. The colleague who pointed out the puppy to my mother told her that he was the fruit of a clandestine union consummated in the countryside between the dogs of two families who didn’t get on very well. Two ‘star-crossed lovers’ as Shakespeare said. And so nobody wanted the puppies. When my mother went to see them, she was struck by the only one of the four to have ruffled fur, who was came late to drink from the bowl of milk, who invariably went hungry. Titanic had just opened at the cinema when we got him, and everyone thought we’d called him Jack after the main character. Actually, we called him Jack because he was black, white and amber coloured, like the bottle of Jack Daniel’s that farmer kept on the shelf. It wasn’t a highly original choice, but it suited him almost immediately.
Even if he has never had any great enthusiasm for food, he has certainly had an enthusiams for liaisons dangereuses. When he was little he got stung by a wasp, and within ten minutes his nose had taken on a sort of anvil shape, and it seemed like he might have anaphylactic shock. One summer morning I found him fighting what turned out to be a viper in the garden; but the most memorable occasion was on one November day when, alone in the house he leapt – practically flew – over the gate and went to vent his boisterous energy in the henhouse of the farm not far away, brutally killing ten hens, according to the farmer’s wife. From then on, Jack was of course rechristened Jack the Ripper.
Thinking of him, I’m realise just how instrumental his presence was in maintaining a certain kind of harmony in my house, how he balanced things out, and got us used to being active, developed our intuition. Our boss Giuliano Gnagnatti maintains that the criterion Paradise Possible applies when it selects a new paradise (Western Ireland, for example) or new accommodation facilities (for example, Villa Censi Mancia), is a demonstrable harmony between Nature, Culture and Society. Let’s say then that in the case of our family, Jack was the natural element which balanced out our microsociety, encouraging us to confront each other and ourselves with a method of communication that was more direct than artificial. Looking at him and how he is now, it makes me think that every family where there is affection is itself a little paradise. I love you, Jack.
The Paradise Trotter