Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Favorite Dog in Literature. Colin.

"So I resolved to acquire a dog, and bought one from a

prospector, who was stony-broke and would have sold his soul

for a drink. It was an enormous Boer hunting-dog, a mongrel

in whose blood ran mastiff and bulldog and foxhound, and

Heaven knows what beside. In colour it was a kind of brindled

red, and the hair on its back grew against the lie of the rest of

its coat. Some one had told me, or I may have read it, that a

back like this meant that a dog would face anything mortal,

even to a charging lion, and it was this feature which first

caught my fancy. The price I paid was ten shillings and a pair

of boots, which I got at cost price from stock, and the owner

departed with injunctions to me to beware of the brute's

temper. Colin - for so I named him - began his career with

me by taking the seat out of my breeches and frightening Mr

Wardlaw into a tree. "

From John Buchan's Prester John.

While Enzo, from The Art of Racing in the Rain may be the funniest canine anyone has ever written about, it is difficult to give him my nod as my favorite dog to grace the pages of a book. It is a close race for number one with me. Racing in the Rain is the best darn dog book going, but since Enzo can relate his feelings to us, I am going to give Colin from John Buchan's Prester John the nod as my favorite "real" dog in literature.

Prester John is not a dog book, but an adventure story by the author of The 39 Steps. If you haven't read Buchan, you're in for a treat. His books give a wonderful view of the British stiff-upper-lip society around the time of The Great War. No, it is not high literature Buchan writes I suppose. But it is fine example of the adventure genre of the period. The writing is somewhere between Joseph Conrad and H. Rider Haggard. Not quite literature but not pulp either.

Prester John is the story of a young man's journey to Blaawildebeestefontein in the Transvaal in South Africa. I will warn the reader that it contains some racial terms many might consider offensive, language similar to Heart of Darkness. This should not stop anyone from reading Buchan though, any more than one should not read Conrad.

Colin is all dog. Mean, nasty and unrepentantly so. Yet he is loyal to a fault. In general I do not find the idea of a vicious dog appealing, yet Colin so fits his environment that his appeal for me is irresistible.

"Wherever I went - on the road, on the meadows of

the plateau, or on the rugged sides of the Berg - it was the

same. I had silent followers, who betrayed themselves now and

then by the crackling of a branch, and eyes were always looking

at me which I could not see. Only when I went down to the

plains did the espionage cease. This thing annoyed Colin

desperately, and his walks abroad were one continuous growl.

Once, in spite of my efforts, he dashed into the thicket, and a

squeal of pain followed. He had got somebody by the leg, and

there was blood on the grass."

From Prester John.

Buchan's books are worth a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment