A Cautionary Story

By Emma Storr

Please listen to my tale of Dee and Bobby,
innocents who fancy a new hobby

and think they need a challenging distraction
from constant one-on-one interaction.

They check the internet and spot a hound
whose pedigree is guaranteed as sound

and of a loyal and trusting disposition,
neutered and obedient in addition.

A money transfer seals the deal. They send
for collar, lead and food for their new friend.

A hairy mutt’s delivered by a man
who rings the bell, then drives off in his van.

The beast is on the mat outside their door
leaving steaming parcels on the floor.

His breed and age are difficult to tell
but going by his teeth and by his smell

of musk and shaggy fur mixed with pee,
in dog years he’s a shade off sixty-three.

He’s rather too affectionate and jumps
to lick a face or sometimes he just humps

their legs while drooling slobber on their feet.
He’s unimpressed by walkies as a treat.

My friends are at the end of their tether
remembering their lonely time together

with regret. They argue about who
has to deal with doggy’s sloppy poo

and which of them will quit the double bed
to sleep with whining doggy instead.

They wonder if the R.S.P.C.A.
might understand, and cart the cur away

to canine heaven. A much roomier place
than their flat. But can they really face

killing off the mutt they dreamt would be
an answer to their irritability?

It’s not cheap to euthanize your pet,
so Dee and Bobby go on-line to get

a tin of dog food laced with toxic stuff
a spoon of which is easily enough

to see off any beast, fish or fowl,
mixed in with chunky titbits in a bowl.

Din-dins looks delightful to the mutt,
he wolfs it down and fills his sagging gut,

licks his lips and seems to ask for more
by scratching Bobby’s leg with one soft paw.

They’re scooping out the last bits from the can
when doggy farts proverbially hit the fan.

All three inhale the fumes and sadly die
a ghastly, smelly death that gives the lie

to those who think a pet will mitigate
boredom in our current lockdown state.

The moral of this tale is never fall
for websites pedalling creatures great and small.
A dog can come between a loving pair
and fumigate a flat with fatal air.

Emma Storr, A Cautionary Story

Emma Storr: I live in Leeds, West Yorkshire. My debut pamphlet Heart Murmur was published last year by Calder Valley Poetry. My work has appeared in several poetry journals. See www.emmastorr.co.uk

A Cautionary Story was inspired by hearing that during lockdown there has been a surge in people buying pets, particularly puppies. Sadly, many of the websites selling dogs are unscrupulous vendors who have reared the puppies in terrible conditions with no proper training. The new owners soon discover that it can be a nightmare caring for a traumatised animal or one that is totally unlike the pet they thought they were buying.

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Karlo Sevilla
3 years ago

Brilliant end-rhyme poem, Emma! And may your warning be heeded. Poor creatures: humans and canines. (And both poorer this pandemic.)

Sandy Hogarth
Sandy Hogarth
3 years ago

Oh this is wonderful Emma. There’s so much I love about it: the description of the independent minded dog, the welcome mat with steaming parcel and of course the finale.
On a serious not I have an 86 year friend in exactly the position you describe who was left a disaster of a dog.

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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