"Faithful even unto death."
THE bell had tolled, and they had buried the old man. The moon rose, and the poor worn-out old dog laid down at the foot-end of the poor worn-out old man. Let us hope that kindness will be shown to him, in allowing him to die there. He will not touch food any more. He has gnawed the rope that prevented him from following the coffin, he has scratched the earth off the newly-made grave — but his strength is gone. His grey face was once a bright black-and-tan; his once shiny coat is ragged and dry; his days, once spent in enjoyment of life and work, have lately been passed in timidly seeking for a stray morsel, and following the tottering steps of the old man now underground, or laying at his feet where he sat. The only remaining strength in the poor dog was his love, and that was not unaltered either by want or weakness.
Some people think that the attachment of dogs is often stronger to a poor master than to a rich one. I do not think it is so because of the poverty of the master, but simply because they are more together and depend more on each other. I know two instances of dogs who refused food and died a few days after their masters. The one belonged to an artist in easy circumstances, and it was a small London terrier: the other a Blenheim spaniel, living in the splendid house of a rich banker on the Continent. The effigy of the faithful pet is added to the tombstone — not like the hound on ancient monuments to show that a noble knight is buried beneath, but in memory of the dog's fidelity.
In 1817 a book was published by a Mr. Blaine on the art of healing diseases of dogs. But having been a surgeon, people thought he had degraded himself by his studying the diseases of animals, and he thought it necessary to make an excuse for his so doing in an Introduction, in which he gives some touching accounts of the fidelity of dogs. There is one which has a direct bearing on the picture, and, I trust, it will be welcome to the readers of The Prize. It is strictly true.
In the parish of St. Olave, Tooley Street, Southwark, the churchyard is detached from the church, and surrounded by high buildings, so that no one can get in except by one large, close gate. A poor tailor of this parish, dying, left a small cur dog that would not be consoled for his loss. The little animal would not leave his dead master, not even for food; and whatever he ate had to be placed in the same room with the corpse. When the body was removed for burial, this faithful attendant followed the coffin. After the funeral he was hunted out of the churchyard by the sexton, who the next day again found that the animal had made his way by some strange means into the enclosure, and had dug himself a bed on the grave of his master. Once more he was hunted out, and again he was found in the same place on the following day. The good clergyman of the parish, hearing of the circumstance, had him caught, taken home, and fed, and tried by every means to win the animal's affections; but he was true to his late master, and took the first opportunity to escape and return to his grave. With true benevolence the worthy clergyman permitted him to follow the bent of his inclinations; and had built for him upon the grave a small kennel, which was supplied once a-day with food and water. Two years this faithful dog lived in this manner, when death put an end to his griefs.