'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Friday, 23 March 2018

Bobby and Alice.

In January of 1990 we went camping and brought home a self-reliant little black puppy that had been living rather poorly on fish bits tossed to him by campground fishermen, and what other scraps he could beg. He was a very active tyke and we named him Bobby. He seemed to have springs in his legs.  He must also have been older than he looked, possibly stunted, because by spring of 1990 Alice my airedale had produced a huge unplanned litter of Alice-Bobby puppies. In January of 1991 I only had three months to go of my own third pregnancy and was looking for homes for the last thee puppies.  I wrote a poem about it all, which I have recently stumbled upon. It wasn’t a particularly happy mistake, but I guess my young sons learnt a bit about unplanned reproduction and the consequences at the least. It's also not a brilliant poem, but it was the best I could do at the time I suppose.

Like many things truly amazing
They appeared with ease.
Bobby was keen,
Alice did what was required,
Seemingly indifferent, matching mine.
But eleven puppies! Oh Lord!
Dreadful for me
The first decision, the first six
Dispatched in batches as
They appeared,
shiny wet helpless butterballs.
The vet’s assistant
Comforting me as I sobbed
Pregnant myself.
And today the last three are now gone.
Four months of naming, growing, tumbling,
Walks, play, licks and cuddles.
Your lives saved
then given away,
In cardboard boxes.
Two to a guy in Thames
One to a guy up the Coro.
Easy come, easy go.
But not for me.

James, two of Alice's puppies, Gt Aunt Eva, Thomas.


  1. Possibly one reason why I have never owned a dog.

  2. Dear Kate,
    I like the poem - especially the way it ends. It captures a moment in time - a true and "felt" moment in your life. The entangling of the dog's pregnancy with your own plays nicely as a poetic device. You wrote it years ago but you are of course allowed to edit it now that there's a distance.

  3. Yep. And the reason why, at the moment, I am pet-free Geeb. A big responsibility.

  4. Thanks for your feedback YP. I appreciate it. Perhaps the overriding emotion - a sense of need to make a particular poem, makes up in part for poetic technique. I can't make any changes at this point because I'm still too close to the memory.


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