Categories Poetry
Location This poem first aired on Northern Community Radio, KAXE & KBXE FM
Date August 11, 2014
URL Launch Project

A DOG’S LIFE
by James C. Henderson

Dogs have it better than us.
They have a more sensitive sense of smell and keener hearing.
I don’t know about eyesight, but they seem to get along okay
even though they see in only black and white, or so I’m told.
They can go out in public naked.
They have no need to spend money on clothes
or shop for shoes that are either too tight or too short.
They don’t have to go to work.
They’re born cute, even if they’re ugly.
They can have sex with whomever they please
except when we spay or neuter them, but they don’t
seem to mind, at least not that they tell us.
And, of course, they can go to the bathroom
in front of the neighbors and get away with it.
On the other hand, they live a short life compared to ours.
But theirs, quickened by a factor of seven
spares them the awareness of a long, slow decline.
They’re not aware of a lot of things, like when a doorbell rings
on TV, it doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s at the front door.
Dogs do have emotions like us: they have a limbic brain.
They experience sadness, anger, anxiety, joy
but they have no need to speak of it or write down how they feel.
They have few worries.
My dog’s only worry is if I’ll ever return to the van
as the shopping carts are collected and one after another
people emerge from the grocery store, none of them me—
his only thought whether or not to pee on the driver’s seat
in retaliation—probably a thought more in my mind than his
because I shield him from the cruelties of life—
more than I do my children.
If he knew that somewhere in the world dogs
are caged, beaten, starved, skinned alive, and eaten as a delicacy
I’m sure he’d be up half the night writing heartfelt poems
none of them capturing to his satisfaction
how deeply disappointing life can be.