Goya, "The Dog," c. 1819–1823
“And just then death came and darkened the eyes of Argos, who had seen Odysseus again after twenty years.” Homer’s Odyssey, Book 17: 260-327 Translation by Stephen Mitchell
The traveler returns, only this time the dog doesn’t quiver with joy, or even recognition. Instead, the gray guard hairs prickle and stand erect; the aged legs stiffen. Everything is an alarm going off, to the dog—even the scent of long-lost family carries panic, not joy. “Who is this thing that carries the pack scent? Who is this stranger, who says I’m theirs?” Nothing to be done except to crouch down, low and slow, avoid the dog’s stare, gentle the breath, wait. With luck, a warm body will lean into another, together exhaling a sigh.