Lately there seems to be an unbridled avalanche of animal videos posted on Facebook, most with some teasing tag line like “This will make you cry!” or “You won’t believe what this dog/cat does!” (Okay, not just lately. It’s been like that forever, I know.) Anyway, it made me think about how easily and readily we assign human motives and personality to the actions of our beloved pets. I suspect at least in some cases we are even correct, but often we may not be. I recalled a poem by Thomas Hardy that reminds us we can also be mistaken…
Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?
Ah, are you digging on my grave,
My loved one? — planting rue?”
— “No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
‘It cannot hurt her now,’ he said,
‘That I should not be true.'”
“Then who is digging on my grave,
My nearest dearest kin?”
— “Ah, no: they sit and think, ‘What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death’s gin.'”
“But someone digs upon my grave?
My enemy? — prodding sly?”
— “Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie.
“Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say — since I have not guessed!”
— “O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog , who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?”
“Ah yes! You dig upon my grave…
Why flashed it not to me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
A dog’s fidelity!”
“Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting place.”