THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
OF AN
EXTREMELY DISTINGUISHED DOG

by Eugene O'Neill
1940

I, SILVERDENE EMBLEM O'NEILL (familiarly known to my family, friends, and
acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years and infirmities is
heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my
last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is
there until after I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness,
he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him then to inscribe it as a
memorial to me.

I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than
men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days
hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep
the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is
nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I
leave to all those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know
will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy
and Willie and Naomi and -- But if I should list all those who have loved
me, it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is vain of me to
boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to
dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.

I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me
too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow,
and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think
that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no
dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for
me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of
smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not
know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is
taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said
good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love
me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not
fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien
and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I
would like to believe with those my fellow Dalmatians who are devote
Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and
full-bladdered; where all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous
multitude of houris [lovely nymphs], beautifully spotted; where jack rabbits
that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the
desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there
are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning, and one curls oneself up
and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave
days on earth, and the love of one's Master and Mistress.

I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But
peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and
head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth I have loved so well.
Perhaps, after all, this is best.

One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, "When
Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never
love another one." Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It
would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would
like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live
without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held
that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to
share the living room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have
tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even
reciprocated a trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others.
Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best. So I suggest a Dalmatian
as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred or as well mannered or as
distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must
not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his
inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I
bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in
1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did,
walking around the Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed
on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear
a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite
worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to
jack rabbits than I have been able to in recent years.

And for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his
in my old home.

One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my
grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts
at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loved
us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not
all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.

[Back]