- “Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards” – Diogenes
- “[The Dog] distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing. And must not an animal be a lover of learning who determines what he likes and dislikes by the test of knowledge and ignorance? And is not the love of learning the love of wisdom, which is philosophy? – Socrates
- “A dog has the soul of a philosopher.” – Plato
- “There is honor in being a dog.” – Aristotle
- “The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” – Anonymous
- “Love me, love my dog.” – St Bernard
- “No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses.” – Herman Melville
These quotes all come from a blog called hotdogcollars. You can find it at http://www.hotdogcollars.com. In fact, you can ‘google’ the word dogs or dog and be amazed at how many references pop up. This is hardly surprising since we all know from our own experience that dogs are deeply ingrained dogs (and other pets, I am sure) in human culture.
I was looking for a special quote about dogs that I had found some time ago, but as it is in the world of googling, you can never re-find what you’ve already found. Past finds just seems to move deeper into the whirling vortex of information found on any search engine. It is worth mentioning here that I took these quotes and sources at face value. I did not see a reason to verify each quote since this is not an academic pursuit. After all, we know that citations seem to be attributed to several people over the course of history so for now it does not matter if Socrates or Diogenes really said what the above blog claims they said. I agree with what was said no matter who said it.
All of the above is a lead-in to writing about my dog, Roni La Reine de Seba, pictured above. I grew up with dogs, but Roni was the first and only one with which I spent 14 years as an adult. Roni was whelped into the world on the first day of January 2006 by an excellent breeder in Arizona.
I had just arrived in Phoenix a couple of years earlier and figured this is where I would wind up living well into retirement years. I felt, as it were, a sense of stability. So when one is feeling stable and at home, why not add a dog? Some friends who were parishioners had me over for dinner one night and I fell in love with their Westie. I got to thinking seriously about getting a dog, a Westie. I pondered the pros and cons of having a pet and then I wondered about which breed and if I should start with a puppy or adopt an older dog.
My friends knew I was leaning toward having a Westie and so they often scoured websites and on-line advertisements about White West Highland breeders. They shared their findings with me and while I found the Westie irresistible, the price was a bit steep for my income. At that time $1,000. to $1,500. was the going price. The financial part of the mental debate came to a close when I was dining with this family. They told me to lift up my dinner plate from the table (I thought this odd.), and what did I find but several one hundred bills? The rest is history.
A friend happened to be visiting from Minneapolis so together we made our way out to the far western suburbs of Phoenix to pick out a puppy. I had been told to never choose the runt, the most shy and least active puppy, but I did. The breeder put some fingernail polish on the puppy’s back indicating that the little puppy was already taken…by me! I now had a puppy. I couldn’t take her home for several weeks, but I had a puppy. Pet owners know this feeling of ownership, responsibility, companionship, friendship.
My young nephew and niece had a hand in naming the puppy. They knew I was looking for and wanted a Westie and, as a gift, they gave me a white ‘I-DOG.’ Billed as an interactive music companion, this gift was a fancy music ipod player in the shape of a dog which moved to the beat of a song. It came with a note that this ‘kind of dog’ will be a good companion until the real one would come along. A suggested name was something like Ronnie. This was the inspiration which at long last brought me to Roni, a Hebrew word that means ‘song of joy.’
I added to her kennel name, La Reine de Seba because the Queen of Sheba was an Ethiopian queen. While the White West Highland breed has white hair, a good trait in their breed is to have dark skin, like that of the Queen of Sheba. Hence, Roni La Reine de Seba. She went by Roni…as in Roe-nee.
There are lots of stories about Roni that will likely show up in the course of this blog, but suffice it to say that Roni grew up in a parish in Mesa. She was adored by staff and parishioner alike. She came to the office with me everyday and soon became a part of daily life there. Staff members shared lovingly in the care of her. A particular parishioner even had a puppy party for Roni. She received tons of gifts and I even received a bottle of wine! She was a couple of years old when I was transferred to another parish where she received the same royal welcome. Roni was a part of my life as deeply as she became part of parish life.
She greeted everyone who came to the office and I always asked if the visitor minded a dog and of the many inquiries, I can only remember one or two people who said they had a fear of dogs. This was not a problem for me or for Roni because anyone on the staff would gladly have Roni visit their office. Obviously, Roni was very friendly and very good about making the environment adapt to her presence. It was not uncommon that a parishioner would greet her before they acknowledged me. It was during the 10 plus years at the second parish that some area pastors and their dogs were featured in a newspaper article. I attribute our selection to be a part of the article to Roni’s popularity.
Her third parish assignment was a gem. The whole parish was very pet friendly and by this time Roni was advanced in years and so she was not only a charmer, but mellow at the same time. By this time, I had started to travel more often to France for research and I was honored by the number of people who volunteered to care for Roni while I was away. One couple in particular became good friends to me and ardent caregivers to Roni when she was diabetic and needed special food and daily insulin shots.
Roni passed away on 17 December 2019 while I was on a research trip in Paris. The marvelous caretakers took care of all of the details of cremation and for this I will be for ever grateful. I was spared this turmoil by being miles and miles away. News of her passing got around quickly and that year I received more condolence messages than I received birthday and Christmas cards! What a great companion Roni was and all the things that people say about dogs, especially those found at the beginning of this missive, are true. My loss was shared by many, one of whom kindly said, “Roni wasn’t just your dog.” This also is true.
The American Kennel Club offers this link to more quotes about dogs.