Dogs, wolves, and stress relief: a coincidence of the digital age and a special ceremony in Milan

- photograph by MIL22

– photograph by MIL22

- photograph by MIL22

– photograph by MIL22

- photograph by MIL22

– photograph by MIL22

Do dogs in the presence of wolves sense their long-ago kinship, high in their family tree? And why do wolves appear to occupy a special place in people’s imaginations?

We were gratefully distracted in a week spent sweating over software incompatibility — unrelated to blogging on this WordPress site — by a Salvador-Dali-meets-Jabberwocky wolf poem that found us on Twitter in an entertaining coincidence.

Would the particular wolf into whose soul the poet dreamt himself recognise as distant relations the beloved Milanese canines in these pictures — more irresistible work by our MIL22? Would it see through the trouble their owners have taken to play down their wolfishness? For instance, the Alsatian – of the breed in which the family resemblance is most pronounced — dressed to look like an American adolescent in a freshly laundered white T-shirt?

What about the intriguing hybrid guarding the owner with a lush platinum mane, the dog with the plump pug’s rump and a disproportionately small beagle head and ears? (Pugle or Beagug – after ‘Labradoodle’? … But then there’s that tail to account for. Just a beagle, perhaps, on a regular diet of kill-me-with-cholesterol-pasta dressed in Alfredo sauce.)

The loup in ‘Lupine’, below, would almost certainly see whatever the Italian equivalent of a sublime smorgasbord is, in the annual, only-in-Italy Benedizione degli Animali – blessing of the animals ceremony – complete with be-robed cleric, balloons, and brass band. We suspect that his most carefully considered comment would be rather brief: yum.

We met this beast by way of Twitter, in a collection titled Rejectamenta — the response to literary rejection of a group of clever and talented Kiwis. Some of the contributions appear to be actual ‘Sorry, not quite right for us at this time’ communications, both form letters and individual replies; others, impish inventions. If they are all real, we are impressed by the time some editors of little literary magazines are taking over saying No.

The link to Rejectamenta was tweeted by (the Man Booker Prize winner) Eleanor Catton’s original publisher, in New Zealand, three minutes after our tweet about last week’s post on what indie publishing could mean for long-established professional scribes – especially those that conventional publishers have declined or been reluctant to publish for unpersuasive reasons. Naturally, we were astonished to follow his tweet and find the assemblage we did. And then, there was this … by a poet whose first full-length collection of poems, How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, was published by the University of Auckland Press in September.



When I was a young wolf undergoing transformation

that trickster moon, so rich with gravitational pull,

drew the buried beast out of me. Stalking the streets

with my sharpened howls seeking out the night

I set my sights on warm hearts whose keepers did not

believe in my kind or in fear. Something in their delusion

dragged at my thirst, which had no trouble finding

its way into their homes and shelters. I showed them fear.

Such were my nights for years as a fallow soul; I shed my

goatskin and terrorised. I licked their wounds with glee

until one chanced night the moon refused my skin.

The beast did not come. Confused and rejected, I ran until

I dipped headfirst into a solemn silver lake not knowing

if I was unraveling in a spent dream or simply drowning.

Chris Tse, 2014

- photograph by MIL22

– photograph by MIL22

- photograph by MIL22

A Richard Dawkins dog who does not want to be here at all – photograph by MIL22