INTERVAL FOUR: A Dozen Of Dogs

Large brown and whitebterrier tied to rail

 

(The ever-popular kennel and kibble brigade have again
invaded LUPO, accompanied by a rather superior feline,
but on this occasion have been rounded up, checked for insect
stowaways and the residues of rolling in noisome delights before
being put on display in a special end of year Interval of their own.)

Bruce McGuffin: Jingle Dog

In late fall it's Deer Season, when hunters appear,
And for whatever reason – excitement or beer –
There are hunters who can't tell a dog from a deer.

So our dog, who's not deer-like, must wear a small bell
to alert any hunter too wound-up to tell
she's a dog. It's life saving, and festive as well.

Deer Season, Thanksgiving, the holidays mingle
together and soon we're expecting Kris Kringle,
His coming foretold by our dog's cheerful jingle.

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Martin Elster: My Singing Basenji

My Basenji does not, of course, bark,
but she sings just as well as a lark.
A coloratura
who sang with bravura,
in the opera world, she left her “mark.”

Acclaimed for her excellent ear,
she sang twelve different operas a year.
Her pitch was so sure
and her tone was so pure
that her listeners, enthralled, would all cheer.

Her voice, loud and clear as a bell,
transfixed you and caused tears to swell.
Her voice never cracked.
The theatres were packed.
All were awed till the last curtain fell.

Her fan club consisted of bats,
opossums, raccoons, mice and rats,
badgers, beavers and bears,
humans, horses and hares,
coyotes . . . and even some cats.

Then one evening while singing Menotti
at the Met with the great Pavarotti,
in the opening scene
something quite unforeseen –
she squatted and out popped a potty

right on the proscenium stage!
The director went into a rage.
The orchestra stopped,
the curtain then dropped,
and they threw the poor dog in a cage.

That was it for my canine’s career.
But she still loves to sing, never fear!
Though she ain’t no bow-wow-er,
genes combined to endow ‘er
with a voice that is pure crystal clear!

Of late she sings oldies and folk
and jazz. (Do you think I would joke?)
She’s now singing for me
with her paw on my knee
as we sit in our yard by the oak.

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L.A. Mereoie: Canine Among The Covers

‘Book-collecting can be likened
to the pursuit of game . . .’
  - David Grayling (Bookseller)

Nostrolene was a dog trained to finding
Rare tomes in a reasonable state.
It could sniff out a scarce blind-tooled binding
And would point at a hand-coloured plate
Or venomous barbs (these days tweeted)
Scrawled in something once owned by Beau Nash
Till the stock on the shelves was depleted
By a wallet well-loaded with cash..

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Susan Jarvis Bryant: No Whiffs, No Butts!

If only I could pick a pet
without the ever-present threat
of droppings popping from its tush
to steam beneath the mulberry bush
and taint the garden everywhere
with scent of errant derrière!
I’d own a cute shih Tzu or two
without the scooping-poop ado.
My ideal pet (that blinding find)
would have a front but no behind,
no bottom, just a tasteful top;
a rumpless dream (cream of the crop);
a work of perfect canine art
quite innocent of turd or fart.
For now, I’ll pass up every pup
until the Lord can cork ‘em up!

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Graham Denby: Pirata A Rescue Dog’s Life

I was gonna tell this my way with lots of Robbarobbarobbaruff doggy talk.
But Dad said no, like he usually does, we haven't time before we go on our walk.
I can't remember a lot about my early life, I was a puppy, that much I do recall .
I'm told I was abandoned in Loule, starving, with ticks and fleas, not very well at all.
I was rescued by a kind lady called Isabel, who housed me and cleaned me up.
But I had to rough it a bit at her kennels, not the sort of life for a loveless pup.

Eight months I waited to be taken and loved, luckily my new Dad spotted me online.
Him and Mum came and took me back to their Casa and from then on things have been fine.
It's warm and comfy, I have my own chair and a fluffy duvet thingy to sleep on at night.
The grub is good and plentiful and Mum does lots of walks with me, so that's all right.
There are some downers, like my Eau de Poo doggy 'rolled in muck', perfume.
I have to have a shower, or worse, a hose down before I'm allowed back in the room.

But there of lots of laughs to be had, I shake Mums old socks before she can wear 'em.
And I pull her to my chair in the morning by her sleeves, trying not to tear 'em!
Funniest is when Dad sneaks into their room to tickle her and slap her backside.
I try to help. I nipped it once, well all that meat, I couldn't resist however much I tried.
No, all in all, it's pretty good here, I get bones and chews and biscuits too, a real doggy treat.
I wouldn't change owt, even their cat, for anywhere else. Casa Kaza and them, yeah, it's neat.

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Chris O’Carroll: Old Possum’s Impractical Doggerel

McMutt, he glories in a tangled skein of DNA,
The offspring of some non-KC ancestral mating fray,
Part something and part something else, blithely unpedigreed,
A mix-and-match agglomeration, not a standard breed.

One of his ears pricks jauntily, the other one flops down.
His colors are distributed like patches on a clown.
His face is neither sharp nor blunt. His shape’s hard to define;
His every contour’s more a sprightly squiggle than a line.

Your alluring leg ignites his lust to cling and woo it.
His own tail seduces him in circles to pursue it.
Ardently his tongue attends his means of procreation.
Yours likewise attracts his nose for frenzied exploration.

He’s a child’s favorite playmate when he lollops for a ball.
He leaves damp stains on carpets and dead rodents in the hall.
He’s sure his raffish charm excuses every kind of sin.
He loves the pungent fragrance of that stuff he’s rolling in.

(First published in Bumbershoot)

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Susan de Sola: Dialogue for Cat and Dog

(In homage to “Said the Dog to the Cat,”
BBC Children’s Hour)

On Tails:

A greeting, a question, a curled caveat, said Cat.
Barometer, impulse, a stick to spin around, said the Hound.

On Doubt:

When in doubt, groom – or scat, said Cat.
Doubt perpetually, complain, said the Dane.

On Attitude:

Grace at all costs, but rule your habitat, said Cat.
Enthuse, display puppyish ways to please, said the Pekinese.

On Service:

Decorate, supply statuary, adorn the mat, said Cat.
Be vigilant: snuff fallen crumbs from the rug, said the Pug.

On Survival:

If in combat, said Cat, climb a tree.
On that, said the Corgi, we must agree to disagree –
But – we canines compensate with our variety.

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Jerome Betts: Shaggy Dog Sale Story

‘Labrador . . . trained to whistle.’
         - Classified advertisement

I once bought a Labrador (yellow))
On the strength of an ad (I was green)
From a ‘canine artiste trainer’ fellow
In a certain (no names) magazine.

It could whistle a quick Camptown Races,
Colonel Bogey, John Peel, Clementine,
And even add fitting grimaces
For a tear-stained or treacle-tinged line.

But in spite of such skills (and credentials
As a sire of good stock running true)
I sold it to cover essentials,
Feeling, ‘As I was done, I shall do.’

The moral? Meticulous vetting,
An audition, or tape, first, to hear
A sample of what you’ll be getting
Lest it turn out to have a tin ear.

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Patricia Bradley: The Dog Who Listens

I’m no clairvoyant but this is what I think.
What is brewing will soon be a great big stink.
Who said what to whom and why and wherefore,
But still no reason I should leave this chair for.

Of course, the cat sashays by, not exactly all ears;
I am the one who is snatched up in a deluge of tears.
To tell the truth, I put most counsellors to shame.
Next time around, then, therapy’s my game.

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Martin Elster: How Is It?

How is it that an Irish Wolfhound meeting a Chihuahua
in Dublin, Moscow, Mexico, New York or Okinawa
will read its body language better than I read a book,
seeing if it means to play or fight, with just one look?

How can a clever Border Collie gambol with a Chow
who thinks herself the cat’s meow or holier than thou?
Or a depilated Xolo or a frisky Hairless Terrier
romp with a Bearded Collie and could not be any merrier?

How is it that a frill-necked Schipperke or Saint Bernard
can lark with Dachshunds, Basset Hounds or Greyhounds in the yard
regardless of the sundry coats in which they are attired,
cavorting till their tongues all touch the turf and have perspired?

Dogs aren’t perfect. Rhea sometimes fights with Razz, because
she craves the latex lizard or the bully stick he gnaws.
How is it, though, we bipeds often shun a fellow man
for sporting skullcap, turban, or a slightly darker tan?

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Shikhandin: Wet Path In Summer

He steps back, wiping his moist brow,
a satisfied smile reflecting
the sun. “A few hours is
all,” says he. “I’ll line up
the flower pots then.” We have
visitors, our neighbourhood
friends, come to claim their morning treat.
They gift us with near perfect, neat
prints on the freshly laid path, and kisses
from wet noses and wagging tails. You can’t get
angry. Such things have no credo
here. A bit of exasperation, yes, maybe. Hours
later our path hardens, and it’s not
so bad. Really. A bit like the walk of stars
or fallen flowers immortalised
in cement.

With summer in full bloom, we drench
our marigolds, hibiscus and ixora. We quench
our fiery bougainvillea’s sly
need to drink. The waxy leaves
and feathery crowns of our foliage queens
shimmy and roll. It’s misty magic for a
while. They flank the path
in their painted pots. We are
garden proud, but only to an extent. Paw-
shaped craters collect
what water they can. Oases for our itinerant
friends – the parched wasp, thirsty ant, tired
dragonfly, a butterfly or two. Sometimes,
a slender garden lizard. They all come
to drink, flit and flee, dance in air to the beat
of tongues lapping from deep
and cool clay bowls set beneath
the shade of lantana hedges. The sigh
of summer’s languid bodies settled
on the grass that we worked with dogged
zeal to keep lush. They appreciate
it with nonchalant grace. A grasshopper
on the fur fearlessly contemplates
its next jump. Fruit flies test their flight paths
on twitching ears. There is peace on Earth.

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George Simmers: The Old Man Walks His Dog

At the wood’s edge, and he can hardly stay
To be unleashed, but pulls in near distress,
So eager to be urgently away
On business humans can but guess.

Now free at last from anodyne indoors,
He leaps into his world of thrilling scents
To hints of wild intoxicating spoors,
To life, and to experience.

We humans know there is a long perspective;
We try to balance gains and future sorrow.
But dogs live for the momentary objective;
They have no concept of ‘tomorrow’.

So Buster bounds from tree to bush to tree
And at selected ones he’ll snuff and snort
And sometimes pee in hurried ecstasy.
Dogs do not know their lives are short.

Three dogs waiting for their owners