I have owned quite a number of dogs in my life, but they are all dead now.
Last evening I visited my dog cemetery—just between the gloaming and the shank of the evening. On the biscuit-box cover that stands at the head of a little mound fringed with golden rod and pickle bottles, the idler may still read these lines, etched in red chalk by a trembling hand—
BUT JERKED HENCE
S. Y. L.
(SEE YOU LATER.)
I do not know why he was called Kosciusko. I do not care. I only know that his little grave stands out there while the gloaming gloams and the soughing winds are soughing.
Do you ask why I am alone here and dogless in this weary world?
I will tell you, anyhow. It will not take long, and it may do me good: Kosciusko came to me one night in winter, with no baggage, and unidentified.
When I opened the door he came in as though he had left something in there by mistake and had returned for it.
He stayed with us two years as a watch-dog. In a desultory way, he was a good watch-dog. If he had watched other people with the same unrelenting scrutiny with which he watched me, I might have felt his death more keenly than I do now.
The second year that little Kosciusko was with us, I shaved off a full beard one day while down town, put on a clean collar and otherwise disguised myself, intending to surprise my wife.
Kosciusko sat on the front porch when I returned. He looked at me as a cashier of a bank does when a newspaper man goes in to get a suspiciously large cheque cashed. He did not know me. I said, “Kosciusko, have you forgotten your master’s voice?”
He smiled sarcastically, showing his glorious wealth of mouth, but still sat there as though he had stuck his tail into the door-steps and couldn’t get it out.
So I waived the formality of going in at the front door, and went around to the portcullis, on the off side of the house, but Kosciusko was there when I arrived. The cook, seeing a stranger lurking around the manor-house, encouraged Kosciusko to come and gorge himself with a part of my leg, which he did. Acting on this hint I went to the barn.
I do not know why I went to the barn, but somehow there was nothing in the house that I wanted. When a man wants to be by himself there is no place like a good, quiet barn for thought. So I went into the barn, about three feet prior to Kosciusko.
Noticing the stairway, I ascended it in an aimless kind of way, about four steps at a time. What happened when we got into the haymow I do not now recall, only that Kosciusko and I frolicked around there in the hay for some time. Occasionally I would be on the top, and then he would have all the delegates, until finally I got hold of a pitchfork, and freedom shrieked when Kosciusko fell. I wrapped myself up in an old horse-net and went into the house. Some of my clothes were afterwards found in the hay, and the doctor pried a part of my person out of Kosciusko’s jaws, but not enough to do me any good.
I have owned, in all, eleven dogs, and they all died violent deaths, and went out of the world totally unprepared to die.