TCS: The Dog Trots Freely – Poems for National Mutt Day

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He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel;
he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that
is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the
dog breed – kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is
made up of all riffraff that’s left over.

– Mark Twain


Millions of dogs wind up in animal shelters across the U.S. every year. Most of them are Mutts. Too many of them never get adopted, but the ones who do reach their Forever Homes pay back their adoptive families so many times over with love and loyalty – and sheer joy.

So here’s to the Mutts, on one of their special days of the year (the other one is on July 31) – because one day a year just isn’t enough to hold all the love of a Mutt.


Mother Doesn’t Want A Dog

by Judith Viorst

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the strangers in
And bark at friends instead,
And do disgraceful things on rugs,
And track mud on the floor,
And flop upon your bed at night
And snore their doggy snore.

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
She’s making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake.

“Mother Doesn’t Want a Dog”from If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries © 1984 by Judith Viorst – Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Judith Viorst (1931 – ) is the author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which has sold some four million copies; the Lulu books, and Necessary Losses. Her most recent books of poetry include What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? and Nearing Ninety.


The New Dog

by Linda Pastan

Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come

this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
make nonsense
of my old simplicities-

as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.

“The New Dog” from A Dog Runs Through It, © 2018 by Linda Pastan – Norton & Company

 Linda Pastan (1932 – ) was born in New York City, but now lives in Maryland; she was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995.


 Abandoned Dog

by Robert Service

They dumped it on the lonely road,
Then like a streak they sped;
And as along the way I strode
I thought that it was dead:
And then I saw that yelping pup
Rise, race to catch them up.

You know how silly wee dogs are.
It thought they were in fun.
Trying to overtake their car
I saw it run and run:
But as they faster, faster went,
It stumbled, sore and spent.

I found it prone upon the way;
Of life was little token.
As limply in the dust it lay
I thought its heart was broken:
Then one dim eye it opened and
It sought to like my hand.

Of course I took it gently up
And brought it to my wife
Who loves all dogs, and now that pup
Shares in our happy life:
Yet how I curse the bastards who
Its good luck never knew!

“Abandoned Dog” from The Complete Poems of Robert Service, © 1944 by Robert Service – Dodd, Mead & Company

Robert Service (1874-1958) was born in the United Kingdom. He sailed to western Canada in 1894 to work in the Yukon Wilderness, the inspiration for many of his best-known poems. But he also traveled widely in the U.S., in other parts of Canada, to Paris and to Cuba. His  Songs of a Sourdough or Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses,  published in 1907, which went into ten printings its first year, and earned him the title of “Bard of the Yukon.”


Verse for a Certain Dog

by Dorothy Parker

Such glorious faith as fills your limpid eyes,
Dear little friend of mine, I never knew.
All-innocent are you, and yet all-wise.
(For Heaven’s sake, stop worrying that shoe!)
You look about, and all you see is fair;
This mighty globe was made for you alone.
Of all the thunderous ages, you’re the heir.
(Get off the pillow with that dirty bone!)

A skeptic world you face with steady gaze;
High in young pride you hold your noble head,
Gayly you meet the rush of roaring days.
(Must you eat puppy biscuit on the bed?)
Lancelike your courage, gleaming swift and strong,
Yours the white rapture of a winged soul,
Yours is a spirit like a Mayday song.
(God help you, if you break the goldfish bowl!)

“Whatever is, is good” – your gracious creed.
You wear your joy of living like a crown.
Love lights your simplest act, your every deed.
(Drop it, I tell you- put that kitten down!)
You are God’s kindliest gift of all – a friend.
Your shining loyalty unflecked by doubt,
You ask but leave to follow to the end.
(Couldn’t you wait until I took you out?)

“Verse for a Certain Dog” from The Portable Dorothy Parker, edited by Brendan Gill, ©1926/renewed 1954 by Dorothy Parker – Viking Penguin

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) may be the most quoted – and misquoted – woman in America. Her formal education ended at 14, but she became a celebrated wit. Parker was a founding member of the famed Algonquin Round Table (circa 1919-1929). When the New Yorker debuted in 1925, Dorothy Parker was on the editorial board. As the magazine’s “Constant Reader,” she contributed poetry, fiction — and book reviews famous for  pulling no punches: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” She made four failed suicide attempts, and said in an interview when she turned 70, “If I had any decency, I’d be dead. All my friends are.” In 1967, Parker did die, of a heart attack, at age 73. She bequeathed her literary estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom she had never met.



by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn’t hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit’s Tower
and past Congressman Doyle
He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower
but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
very depressing
very absurd
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
but he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog’s life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
investigating everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
. . . . . barking
. . . . . . . . democratic dog
engaged in real
. . . . . . . free enterprise
with something to say
. . . . . . . . about ontology
something to say
. . . . . . . about reality
. . . . . . . . . . . . and how to see it
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
. . . . . . . . . . . . at streetcorners
as if he is just about to have
. . . . . . . . . . . . . his picture taken
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . for Victor Records
. . . . . . . . . . . listening for
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . His Master’s Voice
. . . . . . . and looking
. . . . . . . . . . . . like a living questionmark
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . into the
. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . great gramaphone
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of puzzling existence
. . . . . . with its wondrous hollow horn
. . . . . . . . . which always seems
. . . . just about to spout forth
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . some Victorious answer
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to everything

“Dog” from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems, © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti – New Directions Publishing

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919 – ) was born in Yonkers, New York; American poet,  painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He is the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti is best known for his first collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages, with sales of more than one million copies. When Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March 2019, the city of San Francisco  proclaimed his birthday, March 24, as “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day.”



Photo of Mutts Gone Nuts – a dog act

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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