When W H Hudson was staying in Cornwall, he was befriended – albeit begrudgingly by the house’s dog; here he explains why his life and that of dogs do not work together.
“The purely parasitic or degenerate pet dog moves me to compassion, but the natural vigorous outdoor dog I fear ande avoid becasue we are not in harmony; consequently I suffer and am a loser when he forces his company on me. the outdoor world I live in is not the one to which a man goes for a constitutional, with a dog to help him kill something. It is a world which has sound in it, distant cries and penetrative calls, and low mysterious notes, as of insects and corncrakes, and frogs chirping and of grasshoper warblers – sounds like wind in the dry sedges. And there are also sweet and beautiful songs; but it is a very quiet world, where creatures move about subtly, on wings, on polished scales, on softly padded feet – rabbits, foxes, stoats, weasels and voles and birds and lizards and adders and slow-worms, also beetles and dragon-flies. Many are at enmity with each other, but on account of their quietude there is no disturbance, no outcry and rushing into hiding. And, having acquired this habit form them, I am able to see and be with them. The sitting birds, the frolicking rabbit, the basking adder – they are as little distrubed at my presence as the butterfly that drops doen close to my feet to sun hhis wings on a leaf or frond and makes me hold my breath at the sight of his divine colour, as if he had just fluttered down from some brighter realm in the sky. Think of a dog in this world, intoxicated with the odours of so many wild creatures, dashing and splashing through bogs and bushes! It is ten times worse than a bull in a china shop. The bull can but smash a lot of objects made of baked clay; the dog introduces a mad panic in a world of living intelligent beings, a fairy realm of exquisite beauty. They scuttle wasay and vanish into hiding as if a deadly wind had blown over the earht and swept them out of existence. Only the birds remain – they can fly and do not fear for their onw lives, but are in a state of intense anxiety about their eggs and young abmong the bushes which he is dashint ghrough or exploring. “