There was a time — I’m not sure how long it went on — when I lost interest. I simply forgot about him. I would walk around the garden under the pretext of waiting for the veterinarian who was coming to administer his shot, or go to the kitchen to eat, for my appetite was greater than usual, something a night spent half awake, half asleep was unable to fully explain. I could do as I pleased during this small lapse of time, which I knew to be merely an interlude, as if I had come to the surface to breathe the air that would keep me alive. Returning to my room, I would again fall into a deep sleep.


The dog’s suffering had surpassed whatever my emotions were able to bear. I had nothing left in reserve, I was running on empty. He was alive still, panting in a corner, his eyes half-closed. A short while ago, I was stunned to see him stand and walk toward me. I held his head as I stroked his nose with my free hand. He stood there for a long time, a very long time. I said nothing, and he remained motionless, his gaze directed at my own. There was nothing I could do for him. But he didn’t know this and I was tormented by the idea that he may have believed I possessed some unlimited power, a power whose effectiveness he had experienced in so many other circumstances.


He was about to leave me for good. Did he know how much I needed him? Not only his constant presence, his company during my walks and our dinners, but (and this is even stranger still) whenever we were separated from one another. At night I would think about him as I fell asleep, the way we do with a tutelary deity that helps us ward off fear. He was my connection with nature at large, whose savagery and immensity frightened me; through him I came to know only its serenity, the drowsy silences, the satisfactions, freed of anxiety or regret, the blanket of sunshine unfolding before our eyes, the water welling beneath our feet. He made me, in imitation of himself, wholly present to . . .


Returning to the house, where I would find him, I would grow impatient — the result of some natural contradiction — with the thought that I would have to take him out. I was in some ways his servant. There were times when I believed I had been freed of any obligation, although this was not true as far as he was concerned. It was a sacrifice, but one that was immediately repaid. I no longer had to think about anything, I allowed myself to be led.


sur la mort d’un chien
copyright © 1957
editions gallimard

english translation
copyright © 2014
by robert bononno

isbn 978-1-933527-83-3

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