Old English

We had a pet dog when I was a boy. A great,

stupid, soft, shaggy Old English sheepdog. I think

my mother bought him to make up for the regular

lack of husband. I can still remember the smell

of his fur, even now, so many years later, a wet,

sweaty, slightly dirty smell. It’s a long-haired breed,

the Old English. Picks up muck and bits and crap

in its fur like a magnet collects filings. Dopey dog

hated having all the twigs and things combed out,

or maybe he didn’t have the patience to sit around

while we did it. Had the attention span of a small child,

that dog, and the same silly grin, come to think of it.

My mother would come through the door at the end

of the day and the dog would gallop from the back

of the house to the front door like a mad thing

in a dog suit. It bounded down the hall and landed

its brown stained paws on her shoulders and licked

her face with a tongue that smelled of dog food

and slaver and bumlick. She was five foot nowt,

my mother. A pocket venus, that’s what she said.

The dog was a foot taller on its hind legs.

They stood there, both of them grinning

like silly kids. She had a great smile.

She loved that dog.

We loved it too, of course.

You had to love something that wagged

it’s stumpy tail so hard it sometimes fell over,

just because you were you.

It died of a heart attack in the back garden

one day in summer. I came out and found it,

lying there, on the toy-cluttered, unmown grass,

cooling down dead.

Broke my heart.

Never had one since,

dog, or heart.

Never will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.