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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Monday, November 04, 2013

the timid, grateful spaniel

Of all the races of Dogs, the Spaniel is perhaps the most timid, fond, and affectionate—the most grateful for kindness, the most patient under ill treatment. If punished, it receives the chastisement with submission, and looks in the face of its offended master with an expression of humble sorrow for having been the cause of his anger; and the instant that the punishment is over, it comes courting the caresses of the hand that had inflicted the stripes, and asking again to be received into favour. At the slightest look of encouragement, its joy at the reconciliation seems to know no bounds, and is expressed by the liveliest indications of delight, jumping and fawning upon the person of him who had just before been inflicting bodily pain and mental distress — capering round him, and barking loudly with ecstasy. 

"Inflicted the stripes"?  I hope that's simply typical Victorian bombast.  Illustration and selection from A History of British Quadrupeds, Including the Cetacea,Thomas Bell (London:  John Van Voorst, 1837) pp. 222-223.  
If you're interested to read a little more of Bell's Dickensian-flavored tribute on the longsuffering spaniel, here's the following  paragraph, and you'll see why I didn't include it above!

The instances of devoted attachment which have been recorded of this interesting and beautiful creature are not only more numerous,but of a more affecting character than can be related of any other Dog. It is not merely as the favoured companion of his days of health and cheerfulness, and amidst the excitement of the sports of the field, that its attachment to man is shown; it is rather in the hours of sickness or of imprisonment, in the chamber of death or on the scaffold, and, finally, lying and starving on the grave of its beloved master, that the strength and endurance of its devotion are exhibited in their true characters. This is no overdrawn picture : the scenes of humble domestic life in this country, the portals of the Conciergerie and the platform of the guillotine in Paris, and the scenes of midnight murder during the Irish rebellion, have all furnished instances in proof of its literal truth.

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