Haibun for a friend

The dverse prompt is in the form of a letter, addressed to someone in particular from a particular place. The only thing I could think of  was a few words of heartfelt sympathy for Finbar who has had the trauma of a minor operation and having to wear an awful plastic lampshade.

I rarely write letters, so little to say, and what there is interests no one but me. I never write to you, friend, because you can’t read, and even in the spoken words there is room for doubt. But I want you to know that the pain will go, like the soreness of the stitches, and that the indignity of the lampshade cone, the leaving you with unknowns and the drugged sleep were part of the pattern of life that is never smooth but necessary and to be borne stoically, with canine fortitude.

Lying here with your long nose resting on my hand, so you know I can touch you despite the cone, I feel your incomprehension and your trust, that I at least know the why of it all. I wonder how many human beings would accept the way you do, simply because I say you must? No questions, no sulks and angry outbursts, you lay your long nose on my hand because I am me, and you are you, and neither of us hurts the other. Parole de chien.


The road home is short,

each tree a cause of gladness.

The road bends, we see

pale smoke stream from the chimney—

the fire is still alight.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

42 thoughts on “Haibun for a friend”

  1. It is amazing how pets trust us for the most part assuming we know why. I like this phrase about words: “even in the spoken words there is room for doubt”

    1. Thanks Frank. Yes, we find ourselves rattling on to animals, explaining like we would with a child, but (like small children, in fact) they have no idea what we’re saying. We just do it because it makes us feel better. They just trust us to make it better afterwards.

  2. Blessings to Finbar and wishes for quick recovery. This letter is touching. I can see the two of you together. Animals are so trusting. Your words are full of comfort, even to me your words are loving and soothing. Dunbar knows all will be well simply because you say so.

    1. We are very lucky that I stuck with my choice. Finbar came from a refuge in Spain full of similar dogs, abandoned, maimed or sick, dumped by hunters. I chose him from a single mugshot of his face. When he arrived in France, the association that organized the transport and passport etc tried to get me to choose another dog, in view of my size (XS) and Finbar’s size (L) and his strength (small racehorse). They said he wasn’t a good choice. He was a year and a half old (Galgo’s aren’t considered to be out of puppyhood until they’re 4!) he’d never had a collar and lead, and was completely wild. They even threatened to take him back if I couldn’t handle him. It was love at first sight though when they emptied the cages in the transport lorry. He’s like my shadow.

    1. Thanks Bjorn 🙂 The worst thing about the lampshade apart from bumping into everything, is that you can’t get your nose close enough to the ground to follow a trail through tall grass.

  3. This is so touching, Jane. I hope Finbar heals quickly.
    And I loved reading all the comment above, too. I think so many of us can identify. The love we have for our pets may be different, but itis no less real than the love we have for people. I was trying to explain to one of my daughters the other day why we didn’t have pets for so long, and I said it’s because I know how I am–it is a lot of responsibility that I never can take lightly.

    1. That’s right. Taking in an animal is a long term proposition. You have to think about the other residents too. Our youngest often asks why we don’t ‘get’ another cat. For a start, we didn’t ‘get’ any of the cats we’ve had—they got us. And even bringing in another off the street/field, we’d have to contend with a dog that is frightened of what cats can do (he’s not stupid) and would try his damnedest to chase it away and get ripped to shreds as he usually does when he meets strange cats, Trixie who hates other cats and would be beastly to it, and I don’t fancy spending all day every day sorting out fights and worrying about who is going to sleep where. It’s bad enough with the two we have. Trixie won’t let the little cat sleep in the cupboard they squat in the veranda. She won’t let her sleep in the box we put out for her instead, follows her into the linen cupboard and chases her out of there…I go in to sort them out every single night!

  4. “I wonder how many human beings would accept the way you do, simply because I say you must?” Yes! I think animals, although not as “evolved” as us, may have something on us….more patience, loyalty and unconditional trust. I very much enjoyed this, Jane. Hoping Finbar heals quickly.

    1. I love him dearly but he isn’t the easiest of dogs to handle, and he certainly has the same attitude to orders as most children. Deafness being a standard one 🙂

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