13 February 2015

Clara Bow's letter to her dog

Clara Bow loved dogs. She is reported to have said once: "The more I see of men, the more I like dogs". One of the dogs she had was a cocker spaniel -Diablo- who died in 1941 at age ten. Shown below is a three-page, very sweet eulogy that Clara wrote for him. Here it is:

Source: heritage auctions/ reproduced with permission


(handwritten) Read this, sons-
The dictating is mine, but not the typewriting
Remember 'Diablo'
The black cocker spaniel

(Dedicated to Diablo)

Little Dobbie:-

Listen, I am saying this to you, as you lie asleep, one little paw crumbled under your cheek and the black curls stickily wet on your damp forehead.

I have stolen, stolen close to your crib alone. Just a few moments ago as I sat reading, a hot wave of remorse came over to me. I couldn't resist it.... guiltily I came to your basket.

These are the things I was thinking Dobbie.... I had been cross to you. I scolded you because you jumped on me with your wet and muddy little paws and ruined my favorite pyjamas.... and stained my new bedroom slippers. I spanked you for pulling off the table cloth and breaking several pieces of my coffee set.  I called out angrily when I noticed you had dragged some of my things onto the floor.

At breakfast I found fault too. You spilled your food... you gulped down your biscuits in a hurry... I lost my temper when I called to you and there you were playing with King and not paying any attention to my call and whistle.

Then it started all over again.. this afternoon as I drove in, I spied you digging holes in my favorite flower patch- and they were holes alright. If you had to dig, plant and buy those seeds you'd feel the same way I did.. and yet, why should I be so small about such petty trifles.

Do you remember later, when I was resting on the front porch watching the beautiful moon rise, how you came in softly, timidly with a sort of hurt, haunted look in your eyes? When I turned to you impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What do you want?" I snapped.

You just looked at me, so sadly, then turned and ran towards me, jumped right on my lap and buried your cold little nose in my hands with such affection, which, God who is kind to all living, must have set blooming in your heart, and which neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering into my room and crawled into your basket for the night.

Well, Dobbie, it was shortly afterwards, when, after reading awhile, the book slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. Suddenly I saw myself as I really was, in all my selfishness, and I felt sick at heart.

What had habit done to me?  The habit of complaining, of finding fault, of reprimanding you. All of these were my rewards to you for being a little dog. It was not that I didn't love you; it was just that I expected too much of a little puppy. And there was so much that was good and fine in your little dog character. You did not deserve my treatment of you, Dobbie. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the desert hills. All this was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight.

Nothing else matters tonight Dobbie dear. I have come to your bedside in the darkness and I have knelt there, choking with emotion and so ashamed. It is a feeble atonement. I know that you wouldn't understand these things, yet I must say what I am saying. I make a new resolve that tomorrow I will be a real pal to you- and more tolerant with you. When impatient words come I will bite my tongue and say- as if it were a ritual- "He is nothing but a little doggy!"

I'm afraid I have visioned you as a little human being. Yet as I see you now Dobbie, crumbled and weary in your little basket, I see that you are yet only a baby.

Dear little Dobbie, here on my penitent knees, I kiss your little curls- if it were not for waking you I would snatch you up in my arms and crush you to my breast.

Tears come, and heartache and remorse, and I think, a richer, deeper love, when you ran to me through the porch door and wanted to kiss me!