Now, I’m definitely more of a cat person than a dog person. Mainly because I hear dogs require far more time and attention than does a cat. (Those who say so have not met my cat.) But this collection of canine poetry made me feel that the deficiency is mine in not appreciating the fidelity, charm and adoration of dogs as they deserve. These lovely, heartwrenching poems, seemingly mostly about the loss of beloved, loving dogs actually made me cry (admittedly I was in a nice warm bath with a glass of red wine at the time). And one made me laugh (about the dog wheedling extra breakfast out of the author). But the recurring themes are love and all-too-speedy loss, because compared to humans, dogs live such a short time, less than ten years of youth and vigour, usually. The descriptions of Mary Oliver’s interactions with her dogs (the dogs are clearly her own, with particular personalities) often take the form of their unspoken conversations, transcribed here to move and delight us.
Tag Archives: cats
This is the story of a miller’s cat who lives in a windmill and saves a baby in a cradle from drowning in a flood that bursts the dike around the Dutch town they live in. The story arc is pleasantly predictable – cat used to get prefential treatment from the miller until he married and a baby was born to claim all the attention, but after the flood rescue incident, the cat is the miller’s wife’s favourite pet. Perhaps not an ideal book for a three-year-old, with its unusual setting and situations. I didn’t realise that the millstones could not be disconnected from the sails in a storm, requiring constant feeding of grain to prevent the stones forming sparks (surely this is no longer the case?), and this was difficult to explain to my daughter, especially given that she’s none too clear on how wheat turns into bread. I also found it hard to see how a cat jumping about in a floating wooden cradle could prevent it capsizing, however much one could depend on the cat to wish to stay dry, but that part didn’t bother my daughter at all. She enjoyed the baby-saving drama, and the illustrations are detailed and dreamily old-timey, but I think it’s one to try again in future years.