Sunday, July 17, 2011

Comfortable dog bed beneath the foliage

Inside the house, whenever Sophia leaves her big wicker basket empty, Fitzroy has the habit of hopping into it, and often falling asleep. Fortunately, Sophia seems to find it perfectly normal that her basket should be borrowed, from time to time, in this way. As I've often said, she's imbued with a profound Christian spirit of charity. Outside, Fitzroy has always had a fine kennel, but he prefers to sleep out in the open, on a thick wad of straw in front of the wall of the house. This afternoon, for the first time ever, I was amused to discover that Sophia had borrowed Fitzroy's bed for a short nap.

It certainly looks like an attractive place to rest on a summer afternoon. The straw is surrounded by lavender, in full bloom. The shrub on the right is a white-flowering wisteria, whose foliage is sufficiently thick, at this time of the year, to act as a canopy capable of protecting the dog from rain. The plant on the left is a wild dog rose (Rosa canina, called églantier in French), which produces pale pink flowers.

I was wondering why the name of this wild rose (apparently the ancestor of cultivated roses) evokes dogs. In ancient times, people believed that the root of this plant could cure a person who had contracted rabies, after being bitten by an afflicted dog. I'm always amazed when I hear tales like that. I try to imagine the scenario: A gravely sick individual, on a stretcher, is carted along to an apothecary who—for reasons that are hard to fathom—gives the patient a concoction containing the ground-up roots of a wild rose bush. How and why did apothecaries decide that such a preparation might play a positive role in healing such a serious affliction as rabies? More to the point: Did the concoction actually produce positive results?

Maybe, an ancient apothecary happened to notice, like me, that his dogs liked to lie around outside on a bed of straw surrounded by lavender, in the shade of Wisteria and wild rose bushes. So, when one of his dogs went mad and bit people, the apothecary might have asked himself: "Before that animal went mad, what were the plants and flowers associated with its normal state of harmonious well-being?" And maybe the apothecary imagined that these same plants and flowers might play a role in restoring the health of victims of rabies.


  1. Sophia looks quite content in Fitzroy's bed!

    In Hildesheim, Germany, a Rosa canina growing next to the dome is at least 700 years old.

  2. Hey, that's very, very old, even for an ageless rose.