Sunday 25 October 2020

A.L. Snijders: 'Drie honden'

Three dogs


These are recollections about three dogs. The first dates back thirty or forty years. Someone visits me unexpectedly with a large dog, a cross between a Great Dane and a Bouvier. The man is no stranger – he has once done some work on the house. Sometimes he took his dog with him, so I am not afraid. This time he doesn’t come to do any work, he has a question: ‘My wife and I are getting divorced, could you take over the dog?’ I say: ‘You do realise I’ve got two? I’m afraid I’ll have to say no.’ We talk for a bit and as he is getting into the car, I ask him where he’ll take the dog now. He says: ‘To the vet, to have him put to sleep – I can’t find any other address for him.’. I say: ‘Well, leave him here in that case.’ That’s what happened, the dog was a giant with the character of a medieval nobleman. He never got involved in anything, except stormy weather. He was scared stiff of it. If there was no one at home, he would break every door down so as to escape the heavy crashes or to forget them. He lived for a number of years and died a natural death. I can point out the spot in the garden where I’ve buried him.


Adriaan Morriën writes: ‘In the park a large dog, dazzling white (not a Great Dane – this one had the size of an Alsatian). His master, a young man with a moustache, is wearing dazzling white trousers. Does that indicate a spiritual affinity?’

I am unable to answer this poetical question. Morriën is a poet, he doesn’t think much about a dog with a soul.


The third dog was a hunting dog. He was the property of a fanatical hunter who was the owner of a chicken feed business. I used to buy chicken feed and knew the hunter. He trained the German Pointer every day, but one evening, the dog had vanished. The hunger combed the local area painstakingly – the dog was nowhere to be found. After a year, in autumn, I discovered the hunting dog in a small shed on my premises. The animal was tame and did not look neglected or shy. I thought of the hunter and phoned him. He could not believe his eyes, it was his dog. During that year I had often seen the man, he occasionally used to visit us. I later heard that he asked around in the neighbourhood because he suspected that I had had the dog in my possession for the entire year. But no one had ever seen me with the animal. He never found out where it had been that year, but he suspected me. I heard in the neighbourhood that he had said there was no other possible answer. Whenever I bought chicken feed from him, we both kept quiet about the incident. I have always cherished this mutual secrecy, perhaps I dreamt that he was right and when I woke up felt disappointed that I had not protected the dog against its owner.

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