Trevor Rickard, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Trevor Rickard, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Lord Byron's Poetic Goodbye to His Best Friend

Trevor Rickard, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Trevor Rickard, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

A lot of people hoped to be the love of Lord Byron’s life—for instance, Lady Caroline Lamb, who was infamously obsessed with the unattainable poet. But the love of Byron’s life had already come and gone by the time the poet was just 20: a Newfoundland dog named Boatswain.

From the time Boatswain entered the Byron household in 1803, the poet and the pup were inseparable, getting into all kinds of mischief. It's said that Byron enjoyed pitching himself out of watercrafts just to see if Boatswain would come to his rescue. (He always did.) Their escapades were even depicted in a children’s book called Memoires d’un Caniche.

Sadly, Byron’s beloved developed rabies after being bitten by an infected dog. Byron stayed with Boatswain until the end, wiping the foam and saliva from his mouth with bare hands. It’s been suggested that by taking such a risk, Byron was unaware “of the nature of the malady,” but modern Byron scholars believe he was extremely well-versed in dogs and was simply in denial about the fact that his best friend was not long for this world. Boatswain died on November 10, 1808.

"Boatswain is dead! he expired in a state of madness on the 10th, after suffering much, yet retaining all the gentleness of his nature to the last, never attempting to do the least injury to anyone near him," Byron wrote in a letter. The poet honored Boatswain by erecting a large monument on the grounds of Newstead Abbey, his family estate. The tomb is engraved with a poem written by Byron and friend John Cam Hobhouse. (Full text below.)

Byron was still in mourning three years later when he wrote up his will. In it, he requested a final resting place alongside Boatswain, “without any burial service whatsoever, or any inscription save my name and age.” When Byron died in 1826, however, his wishes went unheeded. After being refused at Westminster Abbey, George Gordon Byron was buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall. Boatswain, presumably, is still waiting for his master.

Here’s “Epitaph to a Dog”:

Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Of one
Who possessed Beauty
Without Vanity,

Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.

The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery
If inscribed over Human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
“Boatswain,” a Dog
Who was born at Newfoundland,
May, 1803,
And died in Newstead Abbey,
Nov. 18, 1808.

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And stories urns record that rests below.
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth —
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power —
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennoble but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

IKEA Is Recalling Its New Dog Water Fountain Due to Suffocation Risk

In late 2017, IKEA released LURVIG, its first-ever line for pets, a collection that included beds, leashes, food bowls, and other staple products for dogs and cats. Unfortunately, one of those products is now being recalled over safety issues, according to Fast Company. If you own the LURVIG water dispenser, you should take it away from your pet immediately.

The automatic water fountain poses a suffocation hazard, the company announced in a recent statement. The retailer has received two reports of pets dying after getting their head stuck in it.

A water fountain for pets sits next to a bowl full of dog food.

The $8 water dispenser debuted in U.S. stores in October 2017 with the rest of its LURVIG line. Awkwardly enough, the product description included assurances of the product’s safety standards. It explained that “the LURVIG range was developed with the assistance of trained veterinarian Dr. Barbara Schäfer, who also works with product risk assessment at IKEA,” and went on to say that “the first thing to consider was safety: ‘Dogs will definitely chew on their toys and bring in dirt from their daily walks. Cats will definitely scratch on most surfaces and are sensitive to smell and texture. So safe, durable materials are very important.’”

It seems that smaller dogs are able to get their faces stuck in the dome-shaped plastic reservoir, which only appears to have one hole in it, at the bottom. As a result, dogs can suffocate if they can’t get out of it.

The product has been removed from IKEA’s website, and the retailer recommends that anyone who bought it stop using it and return it to the nearest IKEA store for a refund.

[h/t Fast Company]

This Light-Up Dog Leash Is Perfect for Evening Walks With Fido

Nighttime strolls with your pupper or doggo just got a lot safer. The light-up Nitey Leash on Amazon ensures that you’re visible more than a quarter of a mile away, which could come in handy if you’re walking alongside a road at night, Dogster magazine notes.

Billed as “the world’s first fiber-optic illuminated dog leash,” it gets its glow from LED lights and runs on AAA batteries. Priced at $24.95 on Amazon, the leash is five feet long, water-resistant, and comes in your choice of blue, green, or pink.

Joseph Hassan, the inventor of Nitey Leash, tells Dogster that the product denotes a trend towards “the humanization of pets.”

“Pet owners look for products that treat pets as the important members of the family that they are,” Hassan says. “As part of the family, pet owners want products that have a direct impact on their own lives as well as the lives of their pets.”

Other innovations in pet tech that have been unveiled in the past year include Petrics, the "world’s first smart bed"; the self-cleaning Litter Robot; and the Pet Care Monitor, a litter box that monitors your kitty’s health.

[h/t Dogster]


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