The power of the dog

By IW Feb 27, 2022

In the month that lovers have celebrated Valentine’s Day, an IW Observer reader has written to us about another love – the Power of the Dog.

Ellison Withe and his wife, Edwina, bought pedigree Yorkshire Terrier ‘Alfie’ from Michael and Janet Sutton in Lake, 10 years ago. The couple then lived in Wokingham, but retired to the Island five years ago, making their home in St Helens.

Ellison said: “We see Michael and Janet occasionally and they have now become good friends to us. Proof that when you own a dog, it’s another way of making new friends with other dog owners when out walking.

“In March, Alfie will be 10-years-old and we don’t know how many more years we will have him for. When he is gone, we will miss him enormously and it will create a big void in our lives. Alfie is with us all the time and he really is our best friend. He’s adorable and friendly and at home he has a presence and it is impossible to ignore him. He’s the focal point of our lives and my wife and I love him to bits.

“While contacting you, this has really, really filled me with emotion – time to give Alfie another pat and a kiss!

“So, when we think like this, we refer to a poem written by Rudyard Kipling and which I have a copy of on a wall at our home – it makes us both cry every time we read it.

“Readers of the IW Observer may be interested in reading it to see if it evokes the same emotional response.”


The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling:

“There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy you
Love unflinching that cannot lie.
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the 14 years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fuss
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find, it’s your own affair.
But, you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone – wherever it goes – for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay,
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent,
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve;
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long.
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?