There are nights, knights and, then again, nights. For example, the Beatles came up with the term “A Hard Day’s Night” which was both a song and movie title: It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog. It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log. But when I get home to you, I find the things that you do will make me feel alright…
I want you to keep in mind the reference to “working like a dog” – take a paws, so to speak, and consider the implications while we go through the next night.
One of my colleagues used the phrase “dog nights of the soul” to describe those times, sometimes before dawn, when we wake up worried, consumed by conscience or just unable to sleep. Again, I would like you to use your knowledge of the animal in question to examine the validity of the metaphor in terms of its sleeping habits but don’t make too much of a howl about it.
Then there is the knight in shining armour, in this case handcuffs. Take the case of Sir Allen Stanford, in jail in Texas, manacled and miserable. One Antiguan friend complained, “They treating the man worse than a dog!” Again, if according to the Poet Lovelace, “stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage”, are dogs prisoners or do they behave as if they own the earth if only as leash-hold property?
Finally, there is the Three-Dog Night. First of all, it is an American rock band which became famous in the late sixties and early seventies. They are still around somewhere. What is important in this context is not their music but their name. It supposedly refers to a practice among the Inuit of Greenland or Aborigines in Australia to refer to the coldness of a night by how many dogs you huddle with for warmth. A three-dog night is the coldest of all. The commentary to one of Three Dog Night’s albums (Celebrate) stated that vocalist Danny Hutton’s girlfriend saw a documentary on TV which explained how the custom originated.
For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Three Dog Night or who react coldly to it, there is something that might be worse. It is Three Dogs Day and Night. I had my first three dog night when our friend Hassan, whose family went for a holiday in Syria and who will join them shortly, left his dog, Princess, for us to take care of while everyone is away.
Princess is as spoiled as last month’s casserole but makes up for it in presence and intelligence. She is what Trinidadians will call a “pompek” (a mixture of Pomeranian and Pekinese but essentially any toy dog regardless of breed). Hassan brought her late one evening and the three-dog night got underway with a vengeance.
Princess was nervous and this was reflected in her stomach which caused the first incident of the night as she left her mark in the kitchen where we had put her while we made up our minds on the sleeping arrangements for the night. In the meantime, Crix, our adult male, also a pompek, had gone berserk. He knows Princess well but now, having mated once before with another female, believes himself to be a Casanova or Lothario and immediately sought to inflict his presence, personality and any other “P” word you can think of in this connection upon the poor Princess whose noticeable reluctance to engage in any public acts of cohabitation made her very upset and vociferous.
Then there was Bungee, son of Crix, who is just four months old and very rambunctious. Whether he was upset by Princess’s presence or her defecation on his turf, he too ignored his toilet training. With Crix a victim to unrequited passion, howling outside, Bungee barking shrilly inside, and Princess nervously pacing, growling and threatening to bite, our Three Dog Night had the joint rocking with what sounded more like Metallica or Megadeath than music.
Now, several days later, we have learnt that we cannot let Crix loose when Princess is around, and that even at four-months, Bungee can become a victim to his male hormones but that Princess can, with one snap, put him quickly in his place. Crix, however, has problems of pack position as well as procreation on his mind.
If we let him loose he tries to mark every place that Princess has passed. On the first day she spent with us, he caused us to have to condemn a blanket that we had given to Princess because, abandoning years of training, and in our presence, Crix left an indelible and utterly incredible impression on it.
I have learnt too that there is a very close comparison between human and canine behaviour and that our language reflects this. Crix’s dogged determination to mate with Princess or to show that he is the boss of the doggie pack is an example. More, the kind of whining tone he adopts when Princess is around might be considered doggerel. But more than all of that is the need to show who’s the boss or who has what was known in the Middle Ages as the “droit de seigneur”, a term which was used to describe a legal right allowing the Lord of an estate to take the virginity of the maidens in his territory.
For the next two months, I have the cacophony of three dogs night and day for company. Dog nights of the soul are bad enough. However, when, like me, you’re working like a dog and the dogs are sleeping like a log, but when you should be sleeping they need to go out for their nightly ritual or bark at everything in sight, what you need is a yellow submarine. Now, wouldn’t that be cool especially if you put up a sign, “No Dogs Aloud”?
* Tony Deyal was last seen repeating a Mark Twain observation: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
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