A Dog's Life

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I. M. Tiggy, 1996-2011
My forebear, Thomas Thornhill, shepherd, would have known,
Sitting up alone at night is better with a dog
To keep you company: Victoria wore the crown
When he sat in his hut, out on the Wolds,
Dark blanketing the woods, in winter fog,
At lambing-time, there to protect the folds.
Or with the winter moon, bright as a florin
Showing behind the tracery of the trees
Frosting the grass with silver:
And, as I always told my dog,
Whenever she would listen, not often, I admit,
Her less-domesticated cousins, wolves
Would always seek the opportunists’ entrance:
The gate left careless open.
My thoughts themselves are wolves, out there tonight,
Out in the dark, with wild eyes gleaming bright;
My sheep are purely theoretical, and now
Alas, so is my dog: alas, at last.
I feel her loss, keen as a wolf-moon-howl!
Ah, nevermore she’ll frolic on sands, flat,
At Kildonan, or on Kilbrannan’s shore!
The miles she travelled with us, hills she climbed,
The sticks and frisbees fetched,
The seas she crossed, and now the last shore left
And in the moonlit sky, the dog-star twinkling.
Ironically, she was scared of sheep,
Their bleating spooked her,
Stupid mutt: I loved her, and that’s that;
No poem will bring her back, and any monument’s
Inadequate: so now we learn to sleep
Without her weight upon the bed
Without her twitching, dreaming, now, her
Memories are the pictures that we keep.
Tom Thornhill’s voice comes echoing down the years:
‘Get another one, lad! can’t work without a dog!’
Is all his rough, no-nonsense speech, says - wool, warp, weft,
I sort of know his meaning – it’s not ill, but …
Spring might come,
Silvering the grass with frost,
And it will find me lone, and lonely, still,
On this bare mountain outcrop in my head, bereft,
Still wishing I could stroke behind her ears
Once more;
Still waiting for another dog,
To come and rescue me.

◄ The Wind in The Chimney

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Steve Rudd

Mon 23rd Jan 2012 20:57

Thank you for all your comments. Glyn, my advice would be to get another dog while your first dog is still with us... it gives a sense of continuity and I really wish we'd done this while Tig was still alive, it would have given us a much-needed focus and impetus when she died.

Other than that, I am very grateful for the feedback, I'm sorry that I have been so busy of late getting stuff sorted that I haven't really had a lot of time for poetry.

Before Tig came along, I guess I would have said I was a cat person too. Now I think I am an animal person. There are over 7000 "unwanted" dogs in sanctuaries put to sleep every year.

Isobel. Long hair, smelly breath, that's ME you're talking about there ...

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Anthony Emmerson

Mon 23rd Jan 2012 18:08

A very warm read. Great opening/closing and perfectly paced. Really enjoyed.


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Glyn Pope

Sun 22nd Jan 2012 14:09

Our dog is very old and I'm preparing myself to have my heart broken.

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Ann Foxglove

Sat 21st Jan 2012 17:29

A fantastic poem Steve. I'm thinking of getting a dog - this might just tip me over into getting one! (Always been a cat person till now.) I love the photo - she looks a very loveable girl! I think you are a very good poet btw.

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Dave Bradley

Sat 21st Jan 2012 00:23

Enjoyed this Steve - very evocative - you have a real feeling for words. I also liked your profile poems especially Skiddaw. Skiddaw gave me what remains a supreme moment on the hills, many years ago. The poem was perfect

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Ray Miller

Fri 20th Jan 2012 22:57

I enjoyed the poem, even though I don't like dogs. Alas, my wife does. The last couplet is good, a fitting end.

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Steve Rudd

Fri 20th Jan 2012 22:09

Good for you, Isobel. She sounds like a great dog. If you don't want her, we'll have her.

Thanks MC. Let's hope, eh?

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Fri 20th Jan 2012 21:49

What a lovely poem Steve. Honest and down to earth - right up my street.

We've just taken on an orphaned dog - a long haired 10yr old border collie with smelly breath and hair that gets everywhere. I'd been fighting having a dog for years and when we first got it I was relieved that I wouldn't have to look after it beyond 5-8 years. Now that fact really worries me, because she's bonded big time with everyone - completed the family in fact. So I can understand in small part, how you must feel.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 20th Jan 2012 21:34

My sister who has kept. loved and lost many dogs would know your feelings. Loss can but
point the way to the chance for another to enjoy a "dog's life", to make a sad owner a glad owner once again.

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