An Epitaph to a Noble Breed of Canines and Human Ingratitude

“A poop-eating dog sees only poop everywhere (똥개 눈에는 똥 밖에 안 보인다).”

I drop the Korean adage to describe the frenzy of some Democrats who still find fresh evidence of Russian collusion in everything Trump does during and since his election, even after presentation of the Mueller report to Congress on April 18, 2019, with necessary redactions.

“Eat what?” snaps S, 62, a Korean who immigrated to the States in 1975 and puts on airs as an old timer, more American than American and ardently anti-Trump, as may be expected.

“Coprophagy,” I say, betting he hasn’t heard the term.

“From Greek phagein ‘to eat’ and copros ‘feces’.” His erudition is impressive. “But what has it got to do with a mutt, ddong-gay 똥개?”

“Because the very word means poop-eating dog,” I explain patiently.

“Begging your pardon, Professor,” he spits out the honorific, “ddong-gay has 2 syllables, the first feces, the other dog, meaning a crappy mongrel.”

“No,” I protest, “these dogs cleaned up after us. When as babies we made mess, generally diarrheal, they came in and licked up the anus, buttocks, thighs, bedding. Unable to afford cloth diapers that needed washing every time most families kept dogs for the purpose, disposable diapers unknown. Then, these dogs make the ultimate sacrifice, feeding …”

I stop, noting that my historical perspective is lost on S, now busy tapping his fingers on his i-Pad.

“Look here, Professor,” he thrusts the screen triumphantly before me. “똥개 is defined as mutt, mongrel, cur, with no mention of copraphagy, certainly not on human feces.”

Deflated, I go home and look through the Korean dictionaries and encyclopedias, including the Korean version of Wikipedia. Indeed there is no mention of the real etymology for my breed of canines. Equally untraceable is the adage, based on it. In a decade or two after I left Korea my native language metamorphoses beyond recognition, at least as far as this word is concerned, the country in the meantime becoming a mini-America: dogs are pets with animal rights, fed on dog food, toilet trained, picked after, and interred in cemeteries with tombstones, while eating dog meat, once a national staple, becomes abhorrent like cannibalism.

I can now understand S’s disdain for a fuddy-duddy like me, why he twists his mouth to get out “Professor,” as the stuffy Korean code dictates, instead of being on a first name basis. Only if he’d read my post (see Donald, Champion of Political Incorrectness, Mandate the First Name Basis Across the Board by Executive Order One!, 9-11-2015, typakmusings.com)! But that’s in English. When speaking Korean, we have no option but to stay in our lanes, registers of speech determined by seniority and rank (see American English and Radical Democracy, 9-5-3025, typakmusings.com).

In defiance I start writing an epitaph: “To the memory of the noble breed, caprophagic canine servers joyfully cleaning up after babies …”

Suddenly I am struck by the incongruity of this with the maxim, “A poop-eating dog sees only poop everywhere,” the poop eater here definitely not held in high esteem.

Then I recall watching at age 5 or 6 our beloved and faithful Goldie, so named because of his glorious golden hair, being strangled for his meat, probably the only source of animal protein in those days. I still remember his glazed eyes of rebuke fixed on me.

The epitaph now reads: To the noble breed of coprophagic canines despite human ingratitude. Strictly forbidden is citation or application of that irreverent dictum about canine obsession with excrement to Russian collusion delusion or anything else, however to the point, even among the fuddy-duddies who understand its metaphor.

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