Looking through my files for a poem with a dog in it to go with this photo, I am slightly surprised just how few there seem to be. There are plenty of cats. And then there are dog ends and dog shit, dog-tooth waistcoats and quite a bit of barking, but very few actual dogs.
There’s this fragment:
In a half-dismantled kennel, Sirius
loiters in his dreams of postmen,
bold letters and history enamelled
into coffee-morning insignificance.
But to find a real dog-centred poem I had to go back to this piece, inspired by an article in the TES in July 1999 reporting that delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers’ conference had passed a motion calling for dogs to be used as classroom assistants:
Paws for Thought
They’ve changed my work location,
they’ve changed my hours, too:
now I’m at the infants’ school,
working in class two.
I started down at Hastings
with the Port Authority;
from drugs and undesirables
I kept the country free;
and then I moved to Gatwick
to join their sniffer squad
and putting them in quod.
But now it’s been decided
that they need our help in schools,
and I work for the government,
so I obey the rules.
I’m working, now, with children –
“Canine Carer”, so they say –
but give me dope-crazed rock stars
and drug smugglers any day
’cos the smells in infants’ classrooms
are like none I’d ever met,
and the children – they can be so cruel –
they call me “Teacher’s Pet”.