Monday, March 15, 2010

The Dog Days

Last week, Tuesday I think. The sky was sunny, my work computer was switched to the "on" position and I was quietly slapping the keyboard in the manner to which I was trained. All was calm and admin based. My spreadsheets were balanced, my tidy desk was woefully ignored. I was lost in a momentary bliss. As happy as one can be at work, unless you really love your job. Which I don't. I like my job, sure, but I do not know whether I am ready to declare my love for it. Unless, of course, it is time for a promotion then I am all about the spreadsheets and balance enquiries.
This silence, the perfect stillness, was shattered by my work phone ringing. I checked the number and recognised it to be the better half. She cannot ring my mobile as I have lost it, or, given it away to a Latvian stripper at my brothers stag do. I unhesitatingly answered.

"Hi babe" was my rather out moded call signature.
"Hi, I have found a friend" was a rather chirpy opening gambit from the future Mrs Me. I should, perhaps, explain. She had gone out to lunch with a friend to gossip, talk, drink some wine and generally unwind.
"You found a what?" confusion hit me like a light breeze.
"A friend. We went to the Hilton and this Boxer dog has come up to us and we're now friends"
"Is it a stray?"
"No, it looks quite well looked after. Won't leave us alone. I cannot leave it" which she couldn't do. As sure as Eggs come from Chickens it would have been run over and ruined a perfectly good car. She asked what to do. I suggested the Gardi, the vet and the park. She suggested bringing it home. I explicitly forbade this course of action. After all the evil cat would not like it. She may be evil but she is still scared of dogs. This information I shall use at a later date if she is still evil. I returned to my work thinking that that was that. About half an hour later my work phone rang. I answered, as per my telephone training. As it turns out it was a client. After I hung up the phone rang again. This time it was home. This time I was sure that it was just to say 'I found the owner and they were grateful and bought me a pint'. This self-delusion came crashing down as soon as I answered.

"I brought the dog home and need you to finish early to come home and help me" she sounded adamant. I could hear the dog slobbering in the back ground. I rushed home as per my instructions to find this:

It was massive. I never realised how big these dogs are. To put a comparable size to it, in the literary style of a metaphor. It was as big as a big Boxer dog. It jumped up on me and was all rather friendly. The cat, by the way, was locked in the bedroom hiding. We decided that we should take it to the vets. It was only round the corner and the vet is a nice man. Using a cardigan as a make shift lead we walked, or more accurately, was dragged to the vets. The vet looked him over, told us he was four or five years old, was in good condition and was not tagged. You should really tag pets, especially expensive pedigree ones. The vets do not keep dogs in over night as they whine and sometimes the owners don't bother picking them up at all. So bereft of any ideas, and with the DSPCA not answering the phones, we left the vets.

In my masculine decision making mode we went to the Guards. They, to put it frankly, did not want to know and more or less told us and the dog where to go. But, not actually where to go as the best they could offer was "118-50 it?". I mean seriously. So, we put the dog in the car and drive through the rush hour traffic to the DSPCA in Rathfarnham. I love my Sat-Nav. But it took about 45 minutes to get there. Once we got there it was shut. The only numbers advertised were the ones we were trying. So back to the vets. Here we meet a woman we a Boxer but with no space to hold it, she thought the Dog could be called Rocky but I don't think it was. It looked, if anything, like a Bob. She gave us a leash and suggested we go to the War Memorial Park as that is where Dog walkers go to walk dogs. A joke about Dogging fell on death ears. Shame, as I rather liked it. So we went to the park. And no one there. Here we met up with the woman again. The time was about 7:30 and it was dark. We met up with the woman again who gave us some dog food, and even though I was hinting rather unsubtly that the woman take the dog in, she explained that she couldn't. An 85 year old mother and a small garden prevented this.

Tat the dog would have to stay over with us was becoming very real. It loomed over us like a malting shadow. A malting, slobbering, bouncy, heavy breathing shadow.

We re-tried the numbers. Nothing. We decided to go door to door. Now, this would be OK if it wasn't for my near pathological fear or knocking on people's door and then having to talk to them. I don't even like ringing take aways. Five doors in and nothing. Some one saw it earlier but not an owner. We left our number at the pub. They made a sign: "BOXER DOG FOUND CALL etc".

We went to a house where a young man answered the door. He looked at me, looked at the dog, looked at me and then scratched his arm. He revealed one of those Celtic band tattoo's around his right upper arm. We explained the situation and thankfully, if I had religion I would be praising the appropriate Deity. He took our number and took the dog. I was worried that we had left the dog with a random man, the episode of Father Ted where the eponymous Ted had to get rid of a shed load of Rabbits and goes and sees that mental one with the "I shot JR" T shirt that wants to put them into a Vice. But my fears we assuaged once I had a pint. And then back home. We had the dog for a total of 4 hours. Wasted a load of credit and load fuel. The back seat of the car is covered in hair.

I went to work the following day and the missus spent three or four hours on the phone. The owner had rang the DSPCA who had rang us, then the owner rang us and picked the dog up. Apparently it had gotten free in the morining and ran down the Old Kylemore Road and accross several main roads. And what did we get? Nothing. What did we give the nice lady who helped us out from the goodness of her heart. Nothing. So a moral? If there is one, is simple. Don't let a dog die on the roads. But don't take it in. Chip your pets and don't do anything for anyone as you won't get anything.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Death Poems

In Japanese culture it is customary for some Zen Monks, and other people, to write a poem before the moment of death. It was part of the ritual suicide, or Seppuku, where an aristocrat would write a small poem, a waka or haiku.

The idea behind a Death Poem is to reflect on life, death and the transition between the two states. Especially if you are writing it just before suffering execution. In away it is similar to the last statement that some prisoners get before the chemicals are pumped or the bullets splits the air.

According to this site: they would be left as present to loved ones and students.

From the above site here are a couple of examples:

"Senryu, died September 23, 1790, at 73:

Bitter winds of winter --
but later, river willow,
open up your buds.

Hosshin, 13th century wrote:

Coming, all is clear, no
doubt about it. Going, all is
clear, without a doubt.
What, then, is all?

Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77. A few days before his death, he called his pupils together, ordered them to bury him without ceremony, forbidding them to hold services in his memory. After writing this poem on the morning of his death, he lay down his brush and died sitting upright.

Empty-handed I entered
the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going --
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
Senryu, died June 2, 1827
Like dew drops
on a lotus leaf
I vanish."

The waka form of poetry, specifically the Tanka consists of a series of lines with restricted "sound phrases", if this is Anglicised then the sound phrases become syllables. The syllables are then arranged as: 5-7-5-7-7 in its most rudimentary form. So, you could change the numbers of syllables around I am sure. But like a haiku, or a Shakespearean/ Italian Sonnet I think the technique is the interesting barometer. As much as I love blank verse poetry which allows the author to throw anything at the page, I think the constraints can be interesting. I will endevour to get some of my own on here in due course.