Wednesday, January 02, 2008


It has been almost two weeks now since little Liline C. Papillon came to live at Powellhurst. She has been weighed, measured and found completely adorable at 4.1 lbs. Her ears are still floppy, but my reading (in echo of her former caretaker) assures me that from one day to the next her "wings" will stand at attention. They are already a quite a bit closer to erect than they were when this picture was taken. I have a growing suspicion that she will surpass the originally estimated 5-8 lbs., but that won't make me love her any less.

The truth is that I find dog shows, perfection and pedigrees a complete bore. Flop-eared or 40 lbs, Lily is now family. Although it's been less than a fortnight, it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine the time before she was here. That is the way it is with love, whether it be of pets, friends or significant others.

It took a while to find the right name. Names are important and cannot be rushed. Before I met her, I thought Baxter was craving a girlfriend named Lola. When I saw her picture, I thought "Lily seems a better fit." Still, I wasn't sure. But then, on the way to pick her up my puppy holder (we will call her "Mom"), suggested Lily as well, deeming Lola too brassy for one so delicate. Boy, was she fooled! (The C. was a later addition - for Carmilla, a little shout out to Sheridan le Fanu. Puppy has sharp teeth and she's not afraid to use them!) Still, it seemed a good sign. And if I wasn't sure then, it only took learning that her parents are Lily and Alexander to convince me that we were on the right track with Lily.

One of the best things about living with an example of a very old breed (papillons are descended from the Continental Toy Spaniel, a breed dating back to the fourteenth century) is that the past holds a treasure trove of anecdotes and artistic repesentations about these little dogs, which were bread as companions (early on largely for the aristocracy, because who else could afford to have an animal that didn't fill some functional work role?). This allows for a marriage between my outer animal lover and my inner history geek.

My favorite story that I've found thusfar, an anecdote from Carolyn and David Roe's The Complete Papillon, is another affirmation of Lily/Liline as a noble name. As the story goes, Henri III of France, is reputed to have had (among his other eccentricities) a fondness for carrying little baskets full of dogs around with him. Among his favorites was a papillon called Liline, who was with him when a duplicitous monk called Jacques Clement requested an audience. The dog took such an intense and immediate dislike to the man that she had to be removed to another chamber. Left alone with the king, the murderous monk stabbed him in the chest. The poodle lovers at Companions to Genius like to claim that Liline was a poodle (shocking, I know - it's on poodle people!), but I like to think of my Lily as part of the family that bore such a loyal, little companion. Until I find more information to the contrary, I will stick with my new Prophets of the Papillon, the Roes.

Meanwhile, I have a sweet little dog, who is also the subject of the writing prompt kindly sent to me today by my friend Wendy, the poet. When I grow up, I would love to have the strength and sensibility of her voice. Later, (in backwards fashion) I will work on her prompt for January 1. Her own lovely response to it can be found here. For now, my response to today's prompt:

"Today, bear witness to all you senses. Write each observation as a haiku. String them together."

Wiggly puppy breath
sweetly kisses me awake.
Breaking in the dawn,

the alarm clock screams
a good morning less gentle.
A new day begins


anne said...

I totally wish I could carry around of basket of puppies-

Martina said...

Not to be all unicorns and rainbows about it, but they do seem to make life happier! I would carry one with me at all times, if I could get away with it!

Chris said...

Couldn't you just wear coats made of Dalmatians?

Martina said...

Like that's gonna happen, Chris! Clearly you have never been treated to my thoughts on fur (companion lecture to my thoughts on animal testing). In other news, your comment just made me remember the time this guy I knew in grad school told me I drive like Cruella De Ville. But what did he know? He drove like an old lady!