Read by Lucy Jackson
My dogs’ lives and mine are inextricably entwined.
They set the rhythm for each waking day and hang like wraiths in my dreams.
They are the continuum, the ostinato beat . . .
The steady pulse of a lifetime on which all else is based.
I do not overstate the case.
No image of the past is as vivid as the dogs.
They remain mint fresh, indelibly etched on a billow of receding memories.
In their time they have reflected and shaped a phase . . .
An era making it unforgettably their own.
It seems they have been my clearest reality, their influence undoubtedly profound.
I often ask how this can be.
There are wise old words about the ancient bond between man and dog . . .
The guard, hunter, companion, playmate, child . . .
The easy friendship and generous response to our deep need to love and be loved
Without question or remorse . . .
The instinctive understanding and ready forgiveness for ‘that which we leave undone’.
More than all I love their bright optimism and engaging sense of fun . . .
The laughter . . . the exasperation . . . the time wasting . . .
And the sheer comfort of an ‘animal’ presence to warm both hands and heart.
We can trace in their lives the shape of our own and find reassurance
In the dignity with which they accept inevitable change.
When their brief life passes our bitter tears rise from some fathomless deep
Rarely touched by the business of daily living.
We are reminded of the demons they have kept so long at bay
In that strange place of inner darkness which signifies our own mortality.
I understand all this . . . yet there is something more.
Is it because, though so close, they are also separate and different
Following their own mysterious path and always at the last, fetching for themselves.
Behind the shining eyes there lurks an unknown spirit . . . vibrant, free and inaccessible.
Is this what draws me to them?
Are they the last link with a pagan place . . .
Undimmed by human consideration and the jargon of modern living . . .
The kingdom of Pan, perhaps?
I am held like a child at the window striving to hear the music.
Do I feel its beat?
Is this the pulse that drives my life?
For sometimes when I listen well,
I too can hear the pipes of Pan and capture the wild song of the mermaids …