Saturday, April 18, 2009


Some sad news today—our dear friends Audrey & Cheryl have had to send their beloved Maddy on her way to where the good dogs go. Maddy lived a long, & joy-filled life with her two human companions; she was much loved & gave freely of her love & joy in the amazing way that dogs do this.

When I think about the sentience of animals (which I actually think about quite a lot), I usually go back to these great lines by Blake:

How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?

There is no question in my mind about the depth & quality of animal thought & feeling—simply because animals find no need to write or discuss The Critique of Pure Reason doesn’t mean that they don’t lead full mental & emotional lives; of course, as Blake pointed out, we only have limited access to this intelligence & feeling because our own perception is circumscribed.

But some animals allow us to share in that immense world of delight, & Maddy, like many dogs, was one of those. It’s been my impression that Corgis are generally amiable & happy, but Maddy was very friendly & joyful even by those standards.

Audrey provided an audio file of a song she & Cheryl wrote for Maddy about 10 years ago—it’s quite lovely, & appropriate, too. The audio came with an animation (not of Maddy), but unfortunately, Blogger doesn’t seem to like AAC audio, which meant I needed to convert the original file to an MP3 & then a video file for posting. The song appears at the bottom of the post. Audrey had this to say:

Here's a song Cheryl and I wrote about Maddy for the Pajamathon lullaby record put out by "The Sleepytones." It didn't make the record, so it's an outtake. But very sweet. The vocalist is our friend Frank Lopez. Lyrics: me; music: Cheryl. The album was released by EMI Special Projects in 1999. I would love for people to get to hear it, if it's something you could include on RFB.

Audrey & Cheryl are wonderful people who’ve lost a dear friend; of course, Audrey is known to Robert Frost’s Banjo readers from her delightful posts about Lesley Gore & our current featured post, “A Reformed Rake Makes the Best Husband?” Our thoughts are with them in a sad time, in hopes that they can reflect on the great happiness that was Maddy.


  1. Wow, I guess it's going on everywhere - the passing of old dogs. What a beautiful tribute! I especially loved your thoughts about animal sentience.

    The more we look at animals the more we figure out how sentient they truly are. I suspect, too, that because we've lived side by side for so many thousands of years, our two species have traded enough atoms that we've become even more alike than not.

    Thanks for this!

  2. Hi Reya:

    I'm glad you had a chance to see this. It does seem that we're more capable of translating the sentience of dogs into terms we understand, & I agree this is probably due to the ages-long companionship between our two species.

  3. This beautiful song is so appropriate to post as a tribute to Maddy's passing. The lyrics are especially nice, John.

  4. Thanks Willow. I also thought Audrey did a nice job with the lyrics.

  5. Great post John, a few months ago I wouldn't have understood, but since we rescued a Border Collie (Molly) a love story has unfolded.
    Thanks too for lines from Blake that certainly flicked a switch in my brain.Can I steal them to put on my blog?

  6. TFE:

    Thanks-- you're of course absolutely welcome to use those lines by Blake!

  7. Beautiful face & song. It's so terribly difficult to lose such a dear companion. Dogs are truly one of the family. Every one I've lost has been heartbreaking. My Gertie is ever so dear to me & Gerald. Give your friends my heartfelt condolences. Thanks for the lovely post.
    Cheryl Cato

  8. Thanks Cheryl: It's consoling I'm sure to know that others feel the same way.

  9. Wow. So that's an outtake? In that case, I'd love to hear the album. Is it still available?

    My condolences to Audrey and Cheryl. Maddy was obviously a wonderful friend.

  10. Hi Sandra:

    "Pajamathon" has been disontinued, but is still available here, & possibly from other sources as well.

  11. Oh, I'm going to cry. It's so nice that they have that piece of music by which to remember her. It's a lovely photo as well.

    I have had a number of cats who have been so in tune to my disposition - one spent an entire evening going back and forth from the bed to the bathroom with me when I was sick as a teenager.

    I definitely believe in the sentience of animals - both with US and between themselves.

    Sad, but lovely tribute, John.


  12. Thanks Kat:

    Yes, animals clearly communicate amongst themselves, not just within a species but across species.

    All of your comments are so much appreciated!


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