A Guest Post by Bro Duncan PBGV

by Digitalnun on January 24, 2013

In due place to forget one’s wisdom is sweet, says Horace, so I have prevailed upon Digitalnun to allow me a guest post on her blog. I think the snow has addled her wits (not that she has many) because she agreed without demur. Of course, it could just be that she wants a little holiday from blogging. You can’t tell with nuns. They keep things under their wimple and look at one over the tops of their spectacles in a quizzical way. It’s terribly ham, but what can one expect? They never go to the theatre or watch a good film.

Anyway, back to my favourite subject, me. I joined the community at the same age as St Bede, viz. five years old, on my return from Sweden, where I had been sent on a missionary journey of sorts. My year in Sweden taught me a great deal about snow and ice, for both of which I have an affection, but also reinforced in me the desire for a more solitary, monastic existence. My people knew I would never again be happy in their kennel, for I had known the delights of woodburning stoves and forest walks. Happily, they had just received an enquiry from some nuns wanting a male dog as companion to one of their older community members who was becoming housebound. It was impressed upon me that this would be no sinecure. I would be the monastic porter, the wise old man at the door of the monastery, whose duty it is to welcome everyone; and though I would have a comfortable bed to sleep in because of my age, I could not expect any ‘spoiling’. Fortunately, I have a soft spot for the ladies, so I leaped at the chance.

I have many wonderful children and grandchildren, including the fabulous Jilly (reserve Best in Show at Crufts last year and this year’s Top Dog All Breeds — she takes after me, obviously), but was becoming less and less attracted by the endless round of shows and ‘engagements’ elsewhere. I had had enough of fame. Now I desired stability, a regular routine and the comfort of the same fireside. The monastery gave me what I craved. I soon discovered a genuine taste for religion, especially since it meant I could stretch out on the only comfortable rug in the house (the one in front of the altar) while they chanted the Divine Office. I resented being booted out for Mass but found compensation in the library with a fire and supplementary biscuit or two. I don’t know much about the Song of Songs, but, apparently, one look from my kohl-rimmed eyes would melt the sternest heart. Guests would plead for me, and the nuns would give in!

To my great joy, we moved to Hereford last year and now, not only do I have some beautiful country to roam over, I have a woodburning stove to lie in front of when the weather is foul. My nuns are well-trained and know exactly how I like my kibble and chicken-and-rice when my digestion is a bit sensitive. (Don’t forget, I am of French origin: I won’t eat anything tinned, sacre bleu!) There were a few little problems about managing to get my bed placed where I wanted, but by dint of stretching myself outside Digitalnun’s doorway for a few nights, I achieved my aim. Whether it was my paw or the hand of another (allegedly, Quietnun) that opened the door, I shall not say. It is enough that I’m allowed a spot all my own, right by the radiator.

I am ten now and have been with the nuns five years. My life has all the serenity one would associate with the cloister. I am very quiet, except when I give tongue (that’s houndspeak for the lovely basset profundo which is my natural note). I eat well and enjoy much freedom on this side of the grille, so to say. I give a superb example of humility to all (not difficult with legs my size) and spend much of my time with my eyes closed, meditating on the Four Last Things: supper, walkies, tummy tickle and bed. I am a good example of the alternative name for my breed: the Happy Hound. In short, I am Duncan, the monastery PBGV, a smalle hounde, such as Chaucer wrote about, but a true monk at heart, one who demonstrates the truth of the words, Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat. (I sleep, but my heart keeps watch.)

Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat: Bro Duncan PBGV meditating

Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat: Bro Duncan PBGV meditating

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18 comments

A brilliant post Bro on how you have helped to shape the community and bring that special companionship that only a hound can do.

by San on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 8:14 am. #

At last, the canine inside track on poverty, chastity, humility and obedience, coupled with the odd treat and a radiator. Are there Happy Hounds in heaven? Sister Virgilius told me aged 8 that if I needed a dog in heaven to be happy, then they were ” sure to be there and in legion number” Still don’t know how big a number legion is! Tell DigitalNun that the outsourcing of the blog was a great success. Thanks

by Helene Kydd on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 8:17 am. #

Bro Duncan – you are a genius!

by Pamela on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 8:36 am. #

Is there a more noble Brother, than you, Brother Duncan? I think not!

by Dave Roberts on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 9:31 am. #

What a wonderful start to the day to read such a happy contented blog. Long may you rule over the cloisters Bro Duncan

by Deborah Robrerts on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 9:49 am. #

A very nice post, Brother. It seems that you have your nuns very well trained indeed. And thank you for that quote: “Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat.” I intend using it a great deal in future!

by Theklaje van Keurkloof on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 9:54 am. #

Excellent! :)

by Lorraine Canning on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 10:29 am. #

What a wonderful post Bro Duncan. I have just read it out to a certain Archepiscopal Black Labrador, and reminded him that he should take your conduct as a role model when he moves to Lambeth palace next month…I’m not sure he fully comprehended my admonistion, givenm that I was apparently, overdue on the breakfest supplies. He doesn’t know he’s going home shortly, nor that this is his last stay amongst the cats of Toxteth. We shall miss him, because he does, as all dogs do, provide great companionship and affection. I feel sure there are companion animals in heaven. Why not? We are all God’s Creatures and He hateth nothing he hath made.

by Nadine Daniel on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 10:31 am. #

Thank you, Brother Duncan, for your unique insights into canine spirituality & monastery life. It’s a privilege to get to know you a little better. Pax et Bonios

by Kathryn Fleming on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 12:07 pm. #

I read this post earlier when I was at work. It brightened up my day enormously! Thanks Bro (and also to BigSis and LittleSis for giving you such a wonderful home and life that enables you to cheer so many people with such a beautiful blog). :)

by Kelly on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 6:13 pm. #

My only query about a monastic dog is why is there no tonsure?

by UKViewer on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 6:13 pm. #

Bro. Duncan, it’s nice to hear from you. I am BC, short for Black Cat. My humans couldn’t agree on a name, so they started calling me BC and it stuck. It took only a short time to train them, and now they jump to fulfill my every need. I also enjoy lying across doorways, especially at night. They should know better than to get up in the dark anyway. Now that winter is here, I spend most of my time sleeping on their bed.

During warmer weather, I like to go outside. There are so many interesting things to see and do. I used to leave my humans little gifts on the welcome mat, but for some reason that didn’t go over well. I guess not everyone likes headless rodents.

I got into a fight with another cat last month. It wasn’t my fault, he had no right to be on my property! I defended myself admirably, but not before he bit me. It got infected and my humans took me to the vet. I was poked and prodded and then sedated while my wound was attended to. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, for a week afterward they poured nasty-tasting medicine down my throat. One wrapped me in a towel and the other one pried my jaw open. They were worried that I wouldn’t forgive them, but I did once I started feeling better.

Well, it’s time for lunch and then my afternoon nap. Have a great day!

by Lynn writing for BC on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 6:54 pm. #

Thank you for your kind comments on my post. I regard you all as My Very Best Friends and am very gruntled that I know such marvellous people. The fact that two of you are actually cats is an opportunity for me to display an ecumenical spirit of general benevolence towards all. I’m not sure if Digitalnun will let me back on her blog, but I expect you can persuade her.
Best woofs and licks (not that I am a licky dog), Bro Duncan.

by Bro Duncan PBGV on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 7:27 pm. #

What a delight to hear how contented and happy you are Bro. Methinks you have those dear Sisters very well trained…

by Maria on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 7:27 pm. #

Such a delight to hear from you, it brightened my evening – I read it after finishing a large basket of ironing! I do so hope that you will be enabled to post another guest blog in the future.
Keep warm and rested…

by Portia on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 7:54 pm. #

Ah Brother Duncan, thank you for your wise words. May your kibble be ever crunchy, your hearth be ever warm and may your sisters continue in the knowledge that you’re a wonderful blessing on them all. Always good to remind them when it’s cold, wet walkies time. From Willow the Spirited Springador.

by Alison on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 11:00 pm. #

Oh, my goodness, Bro, you do sound very tall all of a sudden, as though you are on stilts! It’s hard to believe you’ve only got a little leg at each corner.

As I suspected, you’ve been hiding your light under some rose bushel or other. I knew that smart dog collar for Christmas was a mistake. The dovecote will never be the same again.

But what a kind boy you are to give Big Sis a rest. I wonder if she needs a sabbatical. No, forget I said that. You play your own part so well already, God’s little reflection in a crazy world.

There’s nothing quite like a bony fido Gaul for charm!

by Rosy Cole on Thursday, 24 January, 2013 at 11:38 pm. #

Dear Duncan… You are a wonderful advertisement for your community and what it’s all about. (It’s the first time, by the way, that we’ve seen your nice compact green symbol, where, as I read it, things are going round a central table in a clear consecutive clockwise direction.)

by eric on Friday, 25 January, 2013 at 10:11 am. #


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