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孔平仲《狂犬》“Crazy Dog” by Kong Pingzhong (fl. 11th century)

吾家有狂犬, My family has a crazy dog

其走如脫 That runs like a hare breaking free.

撑突盤盂翻, Dashing about, [it] topples plates and pots;

搜爬堂廡 Raking around, [it] smears rooms and corridors.

逢人吠不止, [It] greets everyone with endless barking -

鷄噪猫且 Chickens get disturbed and cats annoyed.

固難在家庭, A real pain in a family home,

只可守村 [It] is only fit to guard a country cottage.

不見已半年, Having left [it there] for half a year,

意謂少懲 [I] reckoned it'd become less fearsome.

昨日至城東, Yesterday [when I] went to the east of the city walls,

摇尾喜若 [It] wagged its tail, bathed in joy.

銜衣復抱膝, [It] bit my clothes and hugged my knees,

屢叱不肯去。 Refusing to leave despite my repeated rebuff.

一躍數尺髙, Jumping up several feet,

其强乃如 [It] was as robust as before.

豈惟性則然, Isn’t this just your nature?

汝分亦天 For your part, [it’s] a gift from heaven.

未聞有驊騮, [I] haven’t heard of any fine steed [1]

蹄嚙棄中 Being abandoned halfway for kicking and biting.

安敢携汝歸, [Yet] how could I be brave enough to take you home with me

重令兒女[2] To scare my children again!

[1] Hualiu 驊騮, the name of one of the eight legendary horses of King Mu of Zhou 周穆王 (d. 922 BCE, ruling 976–922 BCE or 956–918 BCE), refers to fine horses (often red ones).

[2] Red characters rhyme.

Fierce dogs that disturb chickens are hardly (if ever) represented in Chinese paintings. When these two animals show up together, they often symbolise idyllic tranquility or the path to immortality, as in "Yunzhong jiquan" 雲中雞犬 (The chicken and the dog in the clouds) by Cui Zizhong 崔子忠 (d. 1644).

Picture Credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei

However, reality has taught us that dogs have no problems going crazy even in the tranquility of the countryside...


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