My Puppy’s Death by Liu Xiaobo

Dog Days (X)


We conclude our series of Dog Days, serialised over that past year in China Heritage and featured in New Sinology Jottings, with a poem about a humble animal whose cruel fate contributed to greatness.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
2 February 2019



The following translation is from Liu Xiaobo, No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, edited by Perry Link, Tienchi Martin-Liao and Liu Xia, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012, pp.201-202. We are grateful to Perry Link and Lindsay Waters for supporting our request to reprint this essay, to Susan Wilf for her translation and to The Belknap Press for their kind permission.

My Puppy’s Death

Liu Xiaobo


To my beloved Pinkie


From time to time in Communist China, beginning in the early 1950s and extending into the 2000s, officials have issued orders to kill all the dogs, including pets, in designated areas — Ed.


My love, my puppy died
while I was out one afternoon
killed with Dad’s belt
and Red lies

My love, its name was Tiger
my closest childhood friend
it brought me far more joy and sorrow
than anything

That afternoon was special
Dad bought me a movie ticket
always making revolution
he’d never touched my heart before

I only got ninety minutes
then cruel lies ripped me to shreds
my puppy died
while I was first feeling a father’s love

Its flesh handed out to the neighbor boys
its hide nailed to the back of our door
Tiger, once so full of life
now splayed across the stiff cold wood

With its death
my childhood vanished
my only words for this dark world:
I’ll never believe anymore

My darling Xia, can you
bring back my puppy?
I believe: you can
I’m sure you can. I’m sure!

November 14, 1996

Translated by Susan Wilf

Dog Days 2018-2019