The Soul of
A Dog Named Found

Note from the Editor:
José Saramago writes distinctly, but eschews such devices as open or close quotes and paragraphing. This makes him somewhat difficult to read on-line. We would suggest that you print this one out to savor it. It may take more time, and use a little paper, but it is worth it.

The dog Found noticed that once again his master was not in the best of moods, even yesterday, when he had gone to see him at the kiln, he had been surprised by the absent look on Cipriano's face, that of someone who enjoys thinking about things that are hard to understand. He touched his master's hand with his cold, damp nose, someone really should have taught this primitive animal to proffer one of his front paws as all dogs trained in the social graces end up doing perfectly naturally, moreover, there is no other way of preventing the master's beloved hand from abruptly fleeing that contact, proof, if it were needed, that not all has been resolved in the relationship between human persons and canine persons, perhaps because that dampness and coldness awakens old fears in the most ancient part of our brain, the slow, viscous caress of some giant slug, the chill, undulating touch of a serpent, the glacial breath of a cave inhabited by beings from another world. So much so that Cipriano Algor really does withdraw his hand, although the fact that he immediately strokes Found's head, clearly by way of an apology, must be interpreted as a sign that one day he might react differently, always supposing, of course! that their shared life together lasts long enough for what currently manifests itself as instinctive repugnance to become mere habit. The dog Found cannot understand these subtleties, the use he makes of his nose is natural, it comes to him from nature, and is therefore more healthily authentic than the way humans shake each other's hands, however cordial that may seem to our eyes and touch. What the dog Found wants to know is where his master will go when he finally emerges from the state of distracted immobility in which he sees him now. In order to communicate to him that he is awaiting a decision, he again touches him with his nose, and when Cipriano Algor immediately headed off toward the kiln, Found's animal mind, which, regardless of what others may say, is the most logical of all the minds to be found in the world, led him to conclude that in the lives of humans once is never enough. While Cipriano Algor sat down heavily on the stone bench, the dog devoted himself to sniffing the large pebble from beneath which the lizard had appeared, but his master's evident concerns weighed more in his mind than the seductions of what would doubtless prove to be a futile hunt, and so it was not long before he had lain down in front of him, prepared for an interesting conversation. The first words that the potter said, So that's that, then, a precise, laconic sentence with no ifs, ands, or buts, did not seem to promise any further developments, however, in these cases, the best thing a dog can do is to remain silent until the silence of his master grows weary, dogs know that human nature is, by definition, a talkative one, imprudent, indiscreet, gossipy, incapable of closing its mouth and keeping it closed. Indeed, we can never imagine the abyssal depths of introspection reached by such an animal when it looks at us, we think he is doing simply that, looking, and we do not realize that he only appears to be looking at us, when the truth is that, having seen us, he moves on, leaving us to flounder like idiots on the surface of ourselves, spattering the world with pointless and fallacious explanations. The silence of the dog and the famous silence of the universe to which we made theological reference elsewhere, an apparently impossible comparison given the vast differences in material and objective size, are, in fact, absolutely equal in density and specific weight to two tears, the difference lying only in the pain that made them form, overflow, and fall. So that's that, then, said Cipriano Algor again, and Found did not even blink, knowing perfectly well that what was being referred to was not the supply of plates to the Center, that's ancient history now, no, there's a woman involved in all this, and it can only be that same Isaura Estudiosa whom he had seen from inside the van when his master delivered the water jug, a woman with a pretty face and a pretty figure, although we must point out that this is not an opinion formulated by Found, concepts like ugly and pretty do not exist for him, the canons of beauty are human ideas. Even if you were the ugliest of men, the dog Found would say of his master were he able to speak, your ugliness would have no meaning for me, I would only find you odd if you acquired a different smell or stroked my head in a different way. The trouble with digressions is the ease with which the digressor can become distracted by diversions, making him lose the thread of words and events, as has just happened to Found, who caught only the second half of the following words spoken by Cipriano Algor, which is why, as you will notice, they do not start with a capital letter, that's it, I won't go running after her any more, said the potter, obviously he wasn't referring to the above-mentioned capital letter, since he doesn't use them when he speaks, but to the woman called Isaura Estudiosa, with whom, from then on, he vowed to have no more dealings, I've been behaving like a stupid child, from now on, I won't go running after her any more, that was the entire sentence, but the dog Found, although not doubting for a moment the little he had heard, could not help noticing that the melancholy look on his master's face openly contradicted the resolution expressed by his words, although we know that Cipriano Algor's decision is final, Cipriano Algor will not go looking for Isaura Estudiosa, Cipriano Algor is grateful to his daughter for having made him see the light of reason, Cipriano Algor is a grown man, grown up but not yet grown old, not one of those silly adolescents who, because they are at the age of unthinking enthusiasms, spend their time chasing fantasies, will-o'-the-wisps, and imaginings, and they don't give up on them until both their head and the feelings they thought they had collide with the wall of impossibilities. Cipriano Algor got up from the stone bench, he seemed to find it hard to lift his own body, which is not surprising, for the weight of what a man feels is not always the same as the weight registered on the scales, sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less.
--- From The Cave
José Saramago
©2003 Harcourt Publishers
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