Abusing Puppies

December 2, 2014 — 25 Comments

henriPuppies are cute and cuddly, but leave it to a French king to carry that fact to absurd lengths.

One might think owning 2,000 lap dogs is a bit overmuch. Not so Henri III (1551-1589). It would seem that after the first thousand, it might become difficult to recall all of their names, but that didn’t deter Henri.

He so loved his puppies that he used them as a form of adornment, regularly wearing them in a small basket suspended around his neck.

And, amazingly, it appears none of his courtiers mentioned that it looked quite silly. Who knows, he may have established a temporary fad, not unlike the purse puppies used by some modern celebrities to increase attention to themselves.

Puppies are on my mind now, because my wife and I have “reserved” a border collie from a recent litter.

Some readers will recall the grief we experienced when a dog we rescued a year ago, died due to an onslaught of seizures, one after the other. Lyric’s tragic passing, at a young age, was so much more difficult than the loss of our previous three who had lived well into their geriatric years.

It’s taken us a year to be willing to consider adding another dog to our family. We still have Foxy, who we rescued about eight years ago, during our final military tour in California. We decided it would be much easier for her if we added a puppy to our family this time.

I’ll write more about our puppy in the future. For now I’ll end with the “teaser” that we’re naming her after one of the Greek Muses.

C.S. Lewis loved dogs, although apparently not enough to wear them like jewelry.

In 1916, he corresponded with his friend Arthur Greeves about adding a puppy to the latter’s family. His first mention, as Greeves was contemplating the decision, reveals Lewis’ emphasis on the wellbeing of the dog over its master’s preferences.

I think you are very wise not to take that puppy from K. Unless you are a person with plenty of spare time and real knowledge, it is a mistake to keep dogs–and cruel to them.

Greeves proceeded with the adoption, as Lewis appends a postscript to his next letter, written a week later.

Poor puppy!! What a life it’ll have! I shall poison it in kindness when I come home!

In a subsequent letter, the same month, Lewis offers advice about naming the puppy that I was delighted to read. It suggests that he would approve of our decision for the name of the new addition to our family.

In the meantime, whatever name we bestowed on our new puppy, she would never need to worry about being traipsed around on display like a fashion accessory. We’ll leave that to French kings and egocentric divas.

25 responses to Abusing Puppies

  1. 
    John J Flanagan December 2, 2014 at 9:21 am

    With 2000 puppies, the grass around the palace must have looked really nice, and my sympathy is extended to the ordinary schmucks who cleaned up after them. Why do people sometimes go overboard? An old man died recently and had over 80 caged birds in his home which had to be rescued and offered up for adoption. Most will not be adopted out. Go figure!

    • 

      You’re right. I hadn’t even considered the mental disorder related to animal hoarding. I believe they even made a television series about the sad subject.

  2. 

    Ah, the insanity of many earthly monarchs. I’ve been puzzled, too, by the horrible things we do to animals by selective breeding. It’s bad in dogs, but even more extreme with fish. You know, people have bred fish that can barely even swim, and some that have eyes that only point up? It makes me sad.

    But I am glad you will soon have a new addition to your family. May all go smoothly. :)

    • 

      I was unaware of the fish breeding, but (unless that is an unintentional byproduct of genuine scientific research designed to fight congenital diseases)… that is quite sick.

      As for dogs, I’m aware that various breeds have common ailments and have wondered in the past how much of that problem has been exacerbated by breeding.

    • 

      I read that they used to keep a fish in a small glass on the table as a pretty amusement. No oxygen, no space to swim, no school for comfort. dreadful. In fact we are not so much better today.

      • 

        Cruel. However, there is one species that my sister has had that presumably prefers small contexts–siamese fighting fish (betas). I have to think that even if they need to be kept apart because of aggression, that they would still prefer a sizable environment. Speaking of which, I am pleased with how much more sensitive many zoos have become to providing adequate homes for their animals. And, as you mention, to not leaving animals alone without companionship.

      • 

        Yes indeed things are improving at a tremendous rate. We must not be misled by arguments that may be tainted by the need of profit. Instead just a little thinking about what animals need in order to prevail will give clues to what is most comfortable for them. The Betas live in areas where puddles and shallow rivers are connected. They are excellent jumpers so can change to a deeper space if needed. It can be fun to try and re-create a paradise for animals but only experts or someone willing to research should be doing this. People who have no imagination or access to proper information will invariably risk putting animals through a hellish existence. –Back to your blog, I enjoy your writing style. It’s almost classic and a nice experience.

      • 

        I wish that were the worst of it. :(
        Most of the time fish suffer because the people who keep them don’t understand how to take care of them. I run across the assumption that goldfish have short lifespans (rather than their 10-plus span if well cared for) all the time because most people don’t know better. But sometimes we do horribly stupid things to them that are obviously cruel, like in the 70s where there was a brief fad that involved putting goldfish in clear heels of platform shoes… >_<

  3. 

    Big woof in anticipation of the newest member to your family. A new puppies keeps all young..and is a humorous reminder of what is important…not that sock or shoe..or carpet…The Muses are bound to be amused, too.

    • 

      It’s been twenty years since we had a puppy. Sure hope that I’m up to the challenge!

      • 

        I have to admit when we went in for cat food and came out with a dog, I had thought getting a youngish-adult dog would be easier than husband’s idea of a puppy . We missed well mannered The German, and Molly had similar coloring…we just didn’t know she was drugged…and was mostly feral. Have to admit, this one almost did me in. But knowing you are the last chance and only hope….anyway she’s figured us out and things are rolling better..but next time, puppies – so little and easily kept in one area! (And it is easier on the older pet if the newcomer is smaller…RC has firmly put her paw down over this for next time.)
        It is funny how a puppy does make everyone have more energy…must be the laughter …and the extra exercise. No doubt yours will be one lucky puppy! Hope there will be pictures!

      • 

        Knowing you are their last and best hope has motivated several of our “pet” decisions. Yes, I think a tiny new addition will be less threatening and traumatic at this juncture. And, as for pictures, most certainly there will be those… although I think I’ll limit myself to just one when I introduce Calli later this month.

  4. 

    I have had adult dogs and a puppy over many decades. Now we only have one calico cat, and cats do what you want ONLY if it suits them at the time. All of my past several dogs were good, but you still have to be their boss and set boundaries. A dog is also a good friend, but still needs to know you are the true Alpha male in the pack….and you are in charge at all times.

    • 

      That’s true about cats, for sure. I’d only add to your comment that a lady can also be an “alpha female” for her pack. It’s not about gender, just reminding them the human’s the leader. And, amazingly, dogs don’t mind that. They’re much happier when roles are clear and peaceful harmony and affection reign. When it comes to cats, of course, they are the ones who have to reign over all of the non-feline species populating their domain.

  5. 

    My sister-in-law kept 5 rescue dogs in her basement. They were constantly in obedience training because it never took; neither did potty-training, and they barked incessantly. We stayed in her basement, which she had specially built as a palace for her dogs and with guest rooms for humans on one end. Our quarters reeked of dog! I can’t imagine what the palace smelled like with 2,000 dogs!

    Looking forward to hearing about your new puppy! We had an unplanned litter of 8 puppies once and named them after the Greek gods & goddesses. :)

    • 

      So what you’re saying is that you actually stayed for a while in a kennel!

      “Unplanned litter…” yes, we had one of those when I was in college and my parents were caring for my lovely husky that my sister and her husband had foolishly gotten for me while I was living in between home and college. Because of our Norwegian heritage, and the fact she faked me out by acting lethargic when she was tiny, we named her Doven, which means “lazy.” Turns out she was anything but!

  6. 

    Blogs like this is what makes the internet so cool… Thanks for writing it.

  7. 

    hello robstroud its dennis the vizsla dog hay enjoy yore impending noo addishun!!! i hav nown a number of border kolleez frum my flyball days and they wer all verry fokusd and determind dogs!!! ummm wel most of them ennyway!!! hay i hav it on gud awthority frum the faymus dokyoomentarians monty python that kemal ataturk had an entire menagerie all calld abdul so perhaps that is how henri iii manadjd reemembring all there nayms he just naymd them all the saym thing!!! ok bye

    • 

      I didn’t remember that line from the Monty Python routine, but thanks for pointing it out. Always eager to learn new historic trivia (even when it’s fictitious).

      S: Are all your pets called Eric?
      C: There’s nothing so odd about that: Kemal Ataturk had an entire menagerie
      called Abdul!
      S: No he didn’t!
      C: Did!
      S: Didn’t!
      C: Did, did, did, did, did and did!
      S: Oh, all right.
      C: Spoken like a gentleman, sir. Now, are you going to give me a fish license?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Adopting a Puppy « Mere Inkling - December 28, 2014

    […] my post about Henri III, I shared comments from two letters that C.S. Lewis wrote a century ago to one of […]

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