03 January 2009


MOSES faithful companion for almost 14 years, died age 16.....my old dog " a heartbeat at my feet." apologies to Mrs. Wharton, but Moses was- in his prime- 70 pounds, so "little" hardly seems appropriate - I'll make it up to her at a later date-She was a great dog lover too. There will definitely be more dog posts!

MOSES~ Liz Tapp

" you think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there
long before any of us." R. L. Stevenson

Life is about Loss, and
2008 made that all the more a Reality. I lost my heart- named Moses-beloved companion of over almost 14 years. An American Staffordshire Terrier- Moses was a rescue dog with heart worms and one last chance- ME. What a perfect pairing- I was perfect in his dark eyes, and he was mine and mine alone. "I was his and he loved me. That was Manifest,"- as writer Roxanna Robinson said of her own dog. After 18 months of going downhill, No place Moses wanted to go- the last the final blow landed late in the summer- canine cognitive dementia. The promise I made to remember who Moses was and how all dogs should be always- running, rushing, ripping- started plaguing me. I had already moved my- I should say- "our" bedroom downstairs into the dining room over a year ago when the vet said no more flights of stairs for Moses- little did he know he was sending me to the dining room. After discussing this option with my live in- my mother, and lamenting the sadness of Moses slowing, going down- we then lamented losing the dining room for what was hoped- a very long, long time. At times I felt like Mrs Manson Mingott, the matriarch in Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence- accepting visitors downstairs in her main rooms because she could no longer take the stairs. 

" what thou lov'st well remains, the rest is dross what thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee." E. Pound
So without more sad information to the reader- Moses is gone to green Elysian fields and has been joined by our great friend, decorative painter, dog walker of Moses extraordinaire- Sandford Peele. For ten years, Peele had a key to the house and office and would come by every morning for his walk with Moses- though I wasn't always up everyday to greet them on return. When I was, Peele and I would have coffee with a side of the most delightful and fluid conversation- always ending with Moses finishing off the coffee in Peele's cup. I would never have allowed Moses coffee except from his friend- it wasn't discussed-It was just done. Alas- I have no photograph of the three of us or even of SP and Moses- a great shame, don't wait, get the picture you won't have to regret not taking.


"you ask of my companions? The hills sir- and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than beings, because they know, but do not tell." Emily Dickinson

"histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends." Alexander Pope

I have long admired photographer Sally Mann- Her work is hauntingly evocative, somehow familiar and yet, impossibly remote. Sally Mann's work and subsequent book- What Remains is all these things; A study of loss and letting go. Particularly compelling are some of her images of her beloved companion greyhound Eva- She describes her fascination with Eva's body in photographs and the letting go process- photographed with the detachment of an artist and the devotion of a companion left to grieve her way through the process.

Sally Mann and companion- Louie- one of her many greyhounds. photographed by Diana Walker for the book Second Chances More Tales of Found Dogs. Mann describes Louie as "never less than a perfect gentleman."

from WHAT REMAINS Sally Mann~ " shall not be reft from thee."

THE DOGS WHO INSPIRED.... is an overwhelmingly delightful resource for dog lovers-

Focusing on many of my favorite writers Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Bronte- Adams weaves these authors words of praise for their own beloved dogs into a work chronicling the loves and lives with dogs. My favorite fictional novel of a dog has to be FLUSH a biography by Virginia Woolf- a first edition in my library- this book combines all the layers-writer writes about writer's dog- Flush-his kidnapping and subsequent return. True story.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning~ Robert Browning, courting her and recognizing her deep inseparable tie to Flush~ wrote " I shall not attempt speak and prove my feelings- you know what even Flush is to me thro' you." Their courtship and growing intimacy centered around the dog and Flush was the go between-remember Elizabeth was a repressed Victorian. In some of Browning's letters to Elizabeth he imagines himself as Flush- I'll say no more about that- but you get the picture.

a watercolor of Elizabeth and Flush by her brother Alfred Barrett (1843).....and from Flush, " between them lay the widest gulf that can separate one being from another. She spoke. He was dumb. She was woman: He was dog. This closely united, thus immensely divided, they gazed at each other. Then with one bound, Flush sprang onto the sofa, and laid himself where he was to lie for ever after on the rug at Miss Barrett's feet."

Emily Dickinson's said of her Newfoundland-
" I talk of all these things with Carlo. and his eyes grow meaning and his shaggy brown feet keep a slower pace." A favorite poet, I am constantly finding out new things about Emily Dickinson- she still fascinates writers and readers alike- who knew such a recluse could have such a full life- I suspect only Dickinson herself- perhaps this was one reason why she contented herself with her own company much of her life. Like Barrett Browning- Emily wrote often of Carlo and used him as a go between in her correspondences.

Carlo's death brought great bereavement to Emily (- she wrote to a friend, " Carlo died. E Dickinson, would you instruct me now?"

" I believe that the first to come and greet me when I go to heaven will be this dear, faithful, old friend Carlo." Emily Dickinson

"Remit as yet on Grace- No furrow on the Glow, yet a Druidic Difference Enhances Nature Now." E.D.

"to call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though in as much as he has four legs, a tail , and he barked, I admit he was to all outward appearance a dog. But to those of us that knew him well- He was a Perfect Gentleman." Hermione Gingold

Dog's provide a most sacred companionship to humans- asking no questions, making no reproaches. Telling no secrets. All reasons for our great love affair with dogs- or better yet, maybe it is that one and only special dog that finds us, who understands us, and accepts us and our burdens as their own.


  1. What acuity you have write regarding dogs.....there is no better beast.

  2. Gaye: We've had so many animals it's fair to say we've lost our sense of their passing. But that's only true for a small slice of time. They keep coming back in those perverse daylight dreams. The kind where you're standing stock still and people ask you "What are you thinking", or better "What the hell's got into you?" And you have this internal debate whether you should discuss your grief for Poultice the hen or Mothel the goose or Buster the idiot beagle. Life is just a roving catalog of losses. The ones you lose through death are in a sense the kindest.

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  4. I had one of those moments tonight and could not even speak about Moses. It is so true, yes death can be a gift- and it was mine to him- and a kind one. Do you not love the portrait of Emily and Carlo- she fascinates me continually?

  5. I used to be fascinated by hyper-realist art, and I tried to develop the skills to do it. I never got good at it before I just found it too tedious. I've also found that among the most difficult styles to duplicate successfully is American Primitive. Not copying, but trying to make one up out of whole cloth.
    Lately I've been studying the naturalist painters of the early nineteenth century. I think I'm resolutely middlebrow in taste and temperament, and getting worse as I get older. I can't believe I used to be able to sit through a two hour Laurie Anderson show without even blinking.
    Oh, and in case you haven't seen it already, here's Walton Ford. I wish I could paint like

  6. let's collaborate on the whole cloth- once I get my blogging legs.

  7. Gaye, I love the tribute to Moses and the literary insights on the human/canine bond. Love Liz's portrait! Keep up the work on your blog. I'll pass it along....

  8. Sad, beautiful, and inspiring. I'm going to revisit some of these authors as soon as I'm finished with my Dorothy Dunnett.

  9. I am touched by your ability to capture the loss of a faithful companion. Please -e-mail me a photo of you and Moses and I shall surprise you with a treat straight from the heart.
    Patricia, pve design

  10. I just came here from PVE's post about Moses...This is so lovely. What a tribute to your sweet companion. (And I really enjoyed the literary/canine connections.) We adopted an older dog in March 2007 from the shelter...we were, as you say, her last chance. She's snoring (LOUDLY!) at my feet as I type this...I'd say it was one of the best decisions we've ever made.

  11. I hope you return often. Isn't PVE wonderful?!
    I love dogs and hope to include them in my postings often.



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