Written In The Bones
January 24, 2014 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Written in the Bones, a short, sad comic.

Written by Christopher M. Jones, illustrated by Carey Pietsch.
posted by zamboni (25 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

tsch tsch
posted by infini at 5:52 AM on January 24

No, there's dog hair in YOUR eyes.

*goes to hug the cats*
posted by Kitteh at 5:58 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Good lord that was sad.
posted by mittens at 5:58 AM on January 24


(time to hug my goofballs.)
posted by notsnot at 6:07 AM on January 24

Dude, wtf. Did not need a downer this morning.
posted by signal at 6:14 AM on January 24

Damn. Very well written. I want more.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:17 AM on January 24

My aunt's first dog - an Irish setter - had surprise puppies unexpectedly, and kept one. She had both mother and son as pets for about three years until the son also was hit by a car. She too buried him on her property, a shady spot on the edge of a stand of trees.

A few years later, when she had to move, she took the people who bought her house aside and pointed out the spot where he was buried, and urged them to please, please be careful if they ever considered relandscaping - cut down the trees if they must, but please don't dig up that dog's grave.

Sometimes The Masters remember.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

It's more than once that I've yearned to understand more completely the thinking of my four footers. We all try to interpret what the barks, meows, woos, howls, and whimpers mean, but I suspect we don't come close to really knowing and understanding. My pup will, once in a while, make a sound that is so high pitched that it's almost out of my range. Often this happens while she lies sleeping, or at least with her eyes closed. I know, through some sort of interspecies primal connection, that she is grieving some event or feeling that I will never fully understand, and that saddens me, because her attention to my own needs, and her ability to bring healing, seems so intuitive, I wish I could more fully reciprocate.

This cartoon was fantastic... thanks for posting it.
posted by HuronBob at 6:23 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

My childhood dogs are buried in a quiet grove among the pines on my parents' land. We remember!

(Petting current dog anyway...)
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:25 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

This did a good job of encapsulating something I've been feeling about my own cat. I got him from a friend who trapped three litters of kittens in the process of catching (for neuter and release) the feral mother.

It's been a rough winter in New England, and I am really glad that my little guy (and his serial siblings) is in a place where he's warm and dry and safe from predators. But I occasionally think about his mother, and the distress she must have felt at having her babies stolen repeatedly (while understanding that my understanding of that distress is, at best, flawed).

But I'm still glad my cat is warm and safe.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:29 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Cute, but I don't quite believe that animals are that emotionally attached to their offspring considering how many cats & kittens I've had. Mostly once the kittens are fairly self-sufficient, the mom cat wants them gone.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:27 AM on January 24

posted by limeonaire at 7:30 AM on January 24

I think there's a huge difference between how pack animals and non-pack perceive their young.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:41 AM on January 24

Some of you have parsed that the comic is not, entirely, about dogs. It is absolutely about dogs, but the dogs are saying something through me, in my own secret language, through their own secret language. I explained the basic intellectual and emotional thrust of the story to Carey and won’t be doing so for anyone else, because I think your own meanings will be far more interesting and valuable than whatever my intentions might be.
posted by zamboni at 7:55 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Yes, I guess dogs are different, being more attached to others in general.

This comic has made me realize that the people who bought my childhood home might be a bit dismayed about the cat skeletons under the laurel if they ever get around to digging there.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:12 AM on January 24

I think there's a huge difference between how pack animals and non-pack perceive their young.

Less than you'd think, but not nothing. Nina wasn't particularly stressed when strangers were taking her babies away -- she might hop up on a chair to watch them walk back to their car, but once it was gone she was back to normal.

She sees some of her pups from time to time, mostly at agility trials, and mostly they're just other vallhunds... but she does seem to recognize them enough that she often greets them by performing some dog-fu upon them in a wee smackdown. Which she doesn't usually do when meeting J. Random Vallhund.

And I think she sort of understands that she's the mother of Tish and Zhora, who stayed with us... but the reason is kinda gross. Occasionally we'll come home to find part of a poop on the floor. Our suspicion is that Tish or Zhora pooped and Nina ate it (which is a normal thing that mothers do to/for young puppies) until even she was too grossed out to continue.

It's still mostly* a lovely story, but real dogs seem pretty well incapable of the kinds of emotions and reflection the comic attributes to them, like right down in the physical layers of their minds. Which is fine. Dogs don't have to be little furry humans to be wonderful; they're great just as they really are.

*My only beef is that all the "the Masters, praise be upon them" stuff bothers me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Cute, but I don't quite believe that animals are that emotionally attached to their offspring considering how many cats & kittens I've had.

Yes, probably, but isn't this a weird angle for the thread to take? This is a comic, not a peer-reviewed neuroscience article on canine condition. It's a bit like reading Paddington and complaining that bears do not, in fact, wear rain boots...
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:04 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

...but it's hard not to read the comic as a statement about the morality of splitting up dog families. Which wouldn't be nearly as good with a realistic mother who was all "Didn't I have six puppies a little while ago? Eh, whatever. OMG FOOD APE HAS POPCORN! GET IT!"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:55 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

It's a bit like reading Paddington and complaining that bears do not, in fact, wear rain boots...

Come, now. Do you really think that bears give a shit when it rains? That they need coverings on their feet? Maybe you do, you hairless ape wimp.

Don't get me started on how much faster Pooh would have outgrown Christopher Robin and eventually looked at the kid and asked himself if he really wanted to eat fucking honey all the damn time.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:58 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Well, yep, I'm definitely sadder now, but thank you for posting this.
posted by tyllwin at 1:09 PM on January 24

A nice little mood piece, which I enjoyed a lot.

I'm a bit confused about the bones themselves, though. Are we supposed to think they're the bones of the dead son himself, which the parent dogs have disinterred and are now reburying for themselves? Or are they just random food bones which the parent dogs are depositing as a memorial/time capsule?

Even if it's the latter, and we're supposed to view the bones purely as a metaphor for the parent dogs' unsuspected grief, that idea's bound to get confused in readers' minds with the central event of the dead dog being buried in the garden. It's the strip's one weakness in my view.

How did other people interpret those particular panels? Am I just missing something really obvious?
posted by Paul Slade at 2:41 PM on January 24

"I'm a bit confused about the bones themselves....

Did you notice the marks on the bones... glyphs, telling a story, buried for future generations to find and understand.....
posted by HuronBob at 9:26 PM on January 24

Did you notice the marks on the bones.

I did, yes - that's why I called them a memorial/time capsule. But that still doesn't tell us who the bones originally belonged to, does it?
posted by Paul Slade at 2:21 AM on January 25

I'm just going to deposit this here. From the bones they may, one day, reconstruct the body:
Carthaginians sacrificed own children, archaeologists say
Graves holding tiny cremated bones confirm accounts dismissed as Greek or Roman black propaganda, study shows
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:47 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

Wow, Carthago delenda est indeed.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:33 PM on January 26

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