‘Dogs do have a lot of poetry going on around their lives,’ I said.

‘Really?’ Specky was clearly not very sure of what I was trying to say, and so I had to clarify to her that dogs have probably inspired more people to write about them than have cats or lions or camels or earthworms. And I’m not considering the entomologists who have written tomes on insects or the microbiologists who have sung songs on those who exist only on the other side of the microscope. Dogs are as real as any human being and have, for long, been considered our greatest friend. I then helpfully asked her if she had read the quote where Mark Twain called a dog ‘a gentleman’ and that he wanted to go to his heaven than a human heaven?

Specky said, ‘No. The mathematics there doesn’t seem alright.’ She is a mathematician and people who deal with figures might not figure out why anyone would want to write poetry on a dog. I don’t blame her because she wasn’t the one who was staring at a laptop screen when Roli Books (Twitter handle: @RoliBooks ) decided to hold a contest on twitter where one had to tweet using the hashtag #LearningFromADog.

We don’t have a pet dog… or any pet, for that matter. Well, we did try getting friendly with the inch long Mollies in an acrylic fish tank that was made in China but they didn’t last long. They were happy with us, I have no doubt about it. In fact, a couple of them was so ecstatic that she jumped out of the tank at night and we discovered her dead under the sofa… but the important thing is that she was smiling! The remaining clan decided to reproduce too… and we had a tough time salvaging the little babies from their own parents who would have otherwise eaten them up. Oh! It was all very very exciting… but then, this romance came to an end one day when the fishes with us decided to die. The post mortem report said: Reason not known.

But let come back to the canines and what I did for the canine cause. I wrote and sent tweets that had a lot of poetry in them. Just look at the way I seem to have understood dogs even though I have never had one as a pet except on three occasions. One was when I was around six and was playing with my cousins when we found a bitch hopping in and out of our game.

‘She’s playful,’ said a cousin.

I suggested, ‘Let’s take her home.’

So we brought her home and called her Sweety. Sweety stayed there for a few days until she found a burly dog so much more tempting than 4 little kids who did nothing but prance around her.

The second one was Robert, an Alsatian who was left with us when one of my grand uncles decided he couldn’t bear an old and weary dog anymore. But we came to love this friendly creature… and even though he was too old to learn new tricks, he did teach us a few vital lessons. Those lessons came tumbling out as I tweeted in the Roli Books contest.

The third dog we had was when I was in school and came to us as a toddler who could fit into my grandfather’s overcoat pocket. We called him Richard… because he seemed to be fearless enough! He was often standing inside the dog dish as my mother poured in milk for him… and we were always fascinated to see him actually bloat and get bigger in size even as he lapped it all up! All was well with Richard except his penchant with chewing all shoes and slippers in the house… or peeing on any pile of books he saw anywhere.

I once told my grandmother, ‘He must have been a book hater in his previous life.’

Well, enough of my dog banter… let me just list for you all the good and bad 140-character poems that I wrote for the contest… remember that the theme was on the connection between a dog and learning.

The Dog Poems

1

Dogs never confuse ‘wait’
With ‘bait’
They say ‘woof!’
When they’ve had enoof!

2

‘I know how to wait,’
said a dog, ‘That’s fate!’

3

A dog can teach
Us how to reach
For a smile
That is a mile

Away!

4

Dogs never say ‘never’
They are triers forever!

5

A dog too has the fire
To learn and to aspire!

6

Dogs know the art
Of how to win a heart!

7

Dogs don’t ask: Why?
They just try.

8

And that is why
I call them out-going, not shy!

9

It is a lie
That dogs never cry!

10

It is a fact
That dogs have tact.

11

If you think
Dogs don’t think
Think again!

They see the truth
And remember it too.
Dogs never lose their way!

12

Words bite
Glances bite
Even silence bites

Why do we then
fear just dog bites
when dogs
don’t bite as often!

13

he wags
to say
what we humans
find so difficult
to say:

I love you!

14

Wagging
is so much better
than words!

15

Aha!
or Wow!
or Hmmm!
or Mmmm!
A dog
Says a lot
With just a wag!

Now that’s precision
of expression,
isn’t it?

16

I’ve often wondered
If I’d ever see a politician
Wag his tail
If we were all to have one!
Wagging
Isn’t
False.

17

Wag well
Wag your tail with involvement
Wag for friends
Wag to win friends
Wag to transform enemies to friends

18

Can you scratch your right ear
with your right foot?

NO.

A dog can…
so there are things
dogs can teach!

Well, the truth is that dogs have some sort of a super connect with us humans and can understand us and our feelings more perceptively than even other humans can. No wonder then that we find even the blind having more faith in a dog to lead them than trying to ask other humans to do the job. I once showed my blog to a dog… he couldn’t read anything, but he wagged his tail. I once saw a dog shyly wagging his tail in a corner… & I knew he needed friends. We’re luckier & have Facebook and Twitter!

I once asked Specky, my wife what she felt about the English usage ‘a dog’s life’. ‘A dog’s life,’ she told me, ‘is all about winning friends for life.’

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Arvind Passey
06 August 2013

 

 

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