Away with the academic muse! I have no business with that old prude. I invoke the familiar muse, the citizen, the boon companion, to aid me to sing to the good dogs, the poor dogs, the dirty dogs, those whom every one drives away, pestiferous and lousy, except the poor, whose associates they are, and the poet, who sees them with fraternal eye.
Fie upon the foppish dog, upon the coxcomb quadruped, Dane, King Charles, pugdog or lapdog, so enamoured of himself that he darts inconsiderately between the legs or on the knees of the visitor, as if he were certain of pleasing, wild as a youngster, foolish as a flirt, often surly and insolent as a servant! Fie especially upon those four-pawed serpents, idle and shivering, that are called greyhounds, and that do not harbor in their pointed muzzle enough scent to follow the track of a friend, nor in their flattened head enough intelligence to play at dominoes!
To the kennel with all these plaguy parasites!
Let them slink to the kennel stuffed and sulky! I sing the dirty dog, the poor dog, the homeless dog, the stroller dog, the dog buffoon, the dog whose instinct, like that of the poor, the gypsy and the mountebank, is marvellously sharpened by necessity, that excellent mother, that true patron of intelligence !
I sing the distressful dogs, be they those that wander, alone, in the winding gullies of the great cities or those who have said to the forsaken man, with blinking spiritual eyes: "Take me with you, and of two miseries we shall make a sort of joy!"
"Whither go the dogs?" Nestor Roquepelan once said in an immortal leaflet which he has doubtless forgotten, and which I alone, and perhaps Saint-Beuve, recall today.
Where do the dogs go, you ask, heedless men? They go about their business.
Business engagements, affairs of love. Through the fog, through the snow, through the mire, under the biting dogstar, under the streaming rain, they come, they go, they hurry, they move along under carriages, excited by fleas, by passion, by duty or by need. Like us, they have risen bright and early, and they seek their livelihood or run to their pleasure.
There are some who sleep in a ruin in the suburbs and who come every day at a stated hour, to beg alms at the door of a Palais-Royal cook; others who run in troops, for more than five leagues, to partake of the repast which has been prepared for them through the charity of certain sexagenarian maids, whose unoccupied hearts are given over to beasts, since imbecile man wants them no more; others who,. . ., frantic with love, leave their province on certain days, to come to the city and romp for an hour with a handsome bitch, a little careless in her toilet, but proud and thankful.
(excerpt from Good Dogs by Charles Baudelaire, tr. Joseph T. Shipley)