When I was a very young girl, some thousands of years ago, one of my favorite books was Go Dog, Go! Each reading brought the measure of delight at the end, when at last the dog party commenced, and the boy dog finally admitted he liked the girl dog's hat. Today I'm wondering if the dog party isn't very much like what dog heaven would be, if there were a dog heaven. I hope so.
I am a cat lady, but in the past two months I have made the acquaintance of two dogs I rapidly came to like very much. And just as I settled them into my heart, I lost them. I grieved a little along with the authors, a perfect demonstration of the paradox of fiction. I had never met these dogs in real life, nor even their owners. But their death touched me, and I could sense the hole their loss would leave.
Brandy was a side-story that crept into one's heart slowly somewhat like the snail, in The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. She was the faithful companion of the long-suffering author Elisabeth Tova Bailey. Rose I came to know more directly in the various essays wherein Ann Patchett recounts her life with that beloved dog in This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage. (I highly recommend both books, and suggest you order them from Parnassusbooks.net if you are not so fortunate as to have a local independent bookstore.) I came to know about the death of each of these dogs, and now I want them each to be at the dog party. I want them to meet each other, Brandy sporting a most fabulous hat, Rose offering effusive praise, both of them heading for the wild dog tree party, finding their favorite foods, trading stories of their owners' lives.
In "On Responsibility", Ann Patchett writes:
Is is wrong to tell a story about your grandmother and your dog in which their characters become interchangeable?
and by the time the one finishes the essay, the reader concludes with the author that the answer is "no, and please give us more."
I do not believe in dog heaven, or regular heaven; but sometimes, I treasure a fond hope of my mother welcomed at the Pearly Gates by Jesus's open arms, reunited with my father and brother, with all the chocolate she ever wants to eat.