The Dog. Man's Best Friend (When it Suits Him) Poetry.
Mini Schnauzers head popularity lists world-wide
The Devoted Friend and Capricious Master
Living in England it is heartening to see the many well kept dogs. Not so visible are the thousands of badly treated and abandoned creatures; those bred for dog-fighting and more used in animal experiments, the last gaining more acceptance in 2011.
Dogs and primates are chosen for toxicity testing; brain and other surgery as well as dental experiments. The beagle is the preferred canine due to its good nature. The UK claims it has the strictest laws regarding use of animals for experiments. This is true, but these laws really protect the laboratories and drug companies in the last analysis. Most animals used in vivisection, drug and poisons experiments live a short life filled with pain and are afterwards euthanized to check the effects of the experiments.
Meanwhile, under a conservative government, animal's rights activists have been assaulted by police and jailed.
In my mind, drug companies using these techniques against our fellow creatures live in a moral wasteland, along with politicians, banks and insurance companies. It is more true today that "The worst offenders remain unhung."
Despite all we do to the creatures who share our brief stroll in the sun (rain in UK!), dogs especially still love us unconditionally and trust us and our tawdry lives would be diminished without them.
So today here are a few items of verse from my anthology which I hope you enjoy as you are sharpening your pen to protest all the other cruelty.
The Canny Canine.
Slurp, slurp, slurp, the dog.
Round his head an auric fog
Of good sense and canine wisdom.
He rests a spell; resets his style
And sticks out his hot tongue a while...
Do you North Americans remember "Spuds" McKenzie, the bull terrier, who became a super star doing TV advertising and films in the 1970's? He was indeed a beautiful example of his breed, but I often wondered if he missed being a real dog for a while!
It's a Dog's Life
"Spuds" McKenzie, super-star,
Are you happy the way you are?
Bedecked, beribboned, decorated,
Shampooed, perfumed, often feted.
Patted, fondled, loved and lauded;
Rich and famous, much applauded.
A master chef prepares your food;
In your life there's nothing crude.
You're never scolded, much less cuffed,
Your eyes are lined, your nails buffed.
But we bet you'd throw it all away
To be a real dog for just one day.
The Spanish, on the whole, do not hold animal's rights as highly as most Anglos seem to. That's not to say that pet owners in Spain are not legion and most are wonderful owners.
So the following story could have happened anywhere, but it did occur in a Santander pet shop, closed for the weekend.
The Sunday Pet Shop
At last the puppy sleeps.
His tormented day fades:
The hot pet shop, iron cage;
Constant prying fingers.
He longs for that familiar face
He will never see again:
The warm tongue, the soft teat,
His safe retreat from the world.
Once again, contented, he nuzzles
The little furry face wrinkles.
He dreams the steady heart-beat;
His lips taste that rich milk.
I gaze, stricken, through the glass
At his neon-daubed prison.
If I could just pick him up.
But he's light-years away.
Stay in dreamland, furry heart,
For you are one of the lucky ones
Who will soon find loving arms.
The curs on the street shiver
In the cold Cantabrian dawn...
Separation and divorce can cost another area of anguish nearly as bad as parting from the kids. That's the loss of the company of the family pets.
Here's when it happened to me in 1991 when my wife and I separated. If it is a bit sentimental, well, thet durn barker meant a lot to me! (In fact, I missed Chico much more than the wife!).
Chico: A Mini-Schnauzer.
I gaze into those guiless eyes,
Liquid pools of shy surprise.
A lifted paw, a questing nose,
Tufts of hair between his toes.
This innocent, beloved friend,
Trusted partner to the end.
Diffident, he's loyal and true.
The things he calls his own are few:
His rubber bone, a simple toy,
Which fills his vibrant life with joy.
This innocent, etc.
Although I doubt it can be true
A God above formed me and you.
On man he practiced day and night,
To create this perfect little mite.
This innocent, etc.
The day I flew away from Spain
And left you standing in the rain
It broke this silly heart in two,
And, worse, it did the same for you.
My innocent, beloved friend,
We'll be together at the end...
You don’t see half as many scrap metal dealers in Britain today. We have no industry crying out for steel scrap, and property prices have encouraged investors to buy up the lots and turn them into housing.
But back in the last century, “totters, also called “rag and bone men“” combed the streets, crying “rag bone, rag bone” as they had for several hundred years. Everything had value and was recycled.
Many streets contained the small to large scrap dealers, one of which I worked for when the British navy and I had a falling out and I took my leave for a year.
I was so fit and strong lifting heavy bits of iron and steel, I could have held a bull out to piss, as the Aussies say.
During my year there in London’s Deptford in the East End, at Bernie Flanagan’s yard, I befriended the Alsatian yard dog. Many years later, I wrote this poem which recalled Fred and the legions of other unhappy mutts imprisoned in the unhappy yards of London’s scrap dealers, defending to death the rubbish. For their sake alone, it’s a good thing these foul businesses and mindless, grubby and money-grubbing owners are no more.
Mean and nasty, ugly as sin,
Proudly guarding his heap of tin.
Chained up tight to a rotten log,
That’s old Fred, the junkyard dog.
Chained up tight for many a day;
The local folk keep well away.
Watching his hoard of rusty old scrap,
One eye open when he takes a nap.
No one pets him; nobody cares,
If he’s cold and lonely; how he fares.
He’s never been warmed in cosy homes;
Fred’s never tasted juicy bones.
He’s never seen any love or care;
Fleas scurry beneath his matted hair
He’s getting stiff; can’t hear too well,
This ragged king of his junkyard hell.
No one knows who named him Fred.
He won’t be mourned when he is dead.
Faithfully howling in wind or fog:
Forgotten, friendless, a junkyard dog.
Fred (really “Prince”) died in 1974 and now rests in peace.
Verse is from Charged Particles and is copyright.