“If your dog were to write a poem, what would he write?” Waggleview™ with Author and Award Winning Poet Bunny Goodjohn
The Dog Owner: Bunny Goodjohn’s latest novel, The Beginning Things (Underground Voices, CA), launched in November 2015. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals including Connecticut Review, Zone 3, The Texas Review, and The Cortland Review and has won several poetry prizes including The Edwin Markham Prize for Poetry in 2011 and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry in 2014. She is also the author of Bone Song (Briery Creek Press VA, 2015) and Sticklebacks and Snow Globes (Permanent Press, NY, 2007). She teaches at Randolph College, VA, and hangs out and sells books at www.bagoodjohn.com
Dog type and Name:
My official response (to fellow dog walkers and people in the park) is that Bubba is a Lab/Plott Hound mix. To be honest, that’s an absolute guess.
Q: Why did you choose this dog?
I didn’t choose Bubba (who also goes by Bubsy, The Big Bubbaloola, Biggie Boy, Bubbsa, Buggerlug, and Boo Boo Bear.) In the winter of 2007, I had saved up enough money to renovate my bathroom—about $3000—when Bubba turned up, 45lb and close to death, in my yard. We spent much of Christmas and New Year at the emergency animal clinic where the vet fixed all manner of internal injuries…and emptied my bank account. Bubba is now about ten years old and 105lb.
Q: If your dog were to write a poem, what would he write?
Maybe he’d write something like this…
Dog Checks Out Arrival of New Lover
dirt old truck and his man boots big on our dirt
and woman smiling smiling smiling from our steps
his wheels full of grease and smell and town dirt
her full of shop-spray-smell (Psssshht on her neck
in our bathroom) and his hand wide hard gentle on my head
and smiling voice he’s hunkered– blue eyes and big
bones his breath with corn chips and sage my tail alight
with okay okay okay her smile wrapping up the scary his smile
wrapping his and they’re pressing on our step her leg to his leg
his chest to her chest and the mouths together layering up
the smells his over hers under ours and I’m in there,
my body weaving through theirs, corn chips and dirt,
scary and spray smells fur gasoline mouthwash
Q: Do you talk to your dog? If so, what do you talk about?
I spend a lot of time telling him how wonderful he is…and apologizing for having to leave him in order to go to work. We fight sometimes on the rug: then I call him a big bully and trot out my Rocky Balboa / Sylvester Stallone impression.
Q: If he could talk to you, what would he say?
I think he would tell me to chill. I think he would ask me why I get so stressed out over making little scratches on paper and over who might read them when, after all, I have ultimate power over the fridge door. I think he would tell me to follow my nose and to consider that a walk around the grease barrel at the back of Hardies might be as beautiful an experience as an hour spent on the Black Water Creek trail.
Q: If your dog had a job or career, what would he be doing?
Security Guard. Sniper. Mercenary. Gunslinger.
Q: What lesson in life has your dog taught you?
That Keats was right about Negative Capability, that there is little point in the ceaseless search for answers and that the time might be better spent in crafting better questions.
Q: How does your dog inspire you?
Bubba looks after himself. He assumes every stranger entering his life is a homicidal maniac. However, once that stranger has proved himself (or herself) honorable and trustworthy, Bubba hands over The Benefit of the Doubt. I am trying my best to follow his lead.
Q: Where is your dog’s favorite place to go with you?
The grease barrel at the back of Hardies. Seriously. He likes that and anywhere that a groundhog lives. If we could find a fast food joint with a grease barrel and a resident groundhog, he would be beside himself with joy.
Q: Who or what does your dog find the most interesting?
We’re back to groundhogs. Bubs will criss-cross a patch of grass, tail wagging and nose down in the dirt and its debris, charting the traffic of long-gone groundhogs. As a result, I have revised my definition of dog walking. Bubba now has an hour on the leash. We can either walk for a mile or so, or he can spend the entire time sniffing hogs. His choice.
Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?
Let their dogs run loose in a space where leashes are mandatory. Bubba is hyper protective which means he can be a horror-bag when he’s on leash. Bubba constrained + strange dog unleashed = much snarling, raised hackles and unhappiness.
Q: What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?
It means putting your dog’s needs before your own. I walk Bubs every day, even when I don’t want to. I risk life and limb to drive out in the snow because I’ve run out of dog food. I pay a small fortune for Doggie Day Care because three days a week I’m out for 6 hours plus, and for me, that’s too long for a dog to be alone on a regular basis.
Q: Do you ever dress up your dog? If so, as what?
Never. I feel exploitive even putting a bandanna on him. He’s not there for my entertainment.
Q: How has your dog changed your life?
He stops me isolating. As a writer and as a woman in recovery, I can tend towards isolation. He makes me leave the house. He makes me talk to people at the vet’s office. He makes me discuss his dubious pedigree with fellow dog walkers. He makes me do good things that my mind can tell me are bad things.
Q: Does your dog have a philosophy of life?
Love wildly those deserving of your love. Love them loudly. Lick them soundly. Love them as they enter the house. Love them as they leave. They will return with love, a little guilt, and a lot of biscuits.
Q: I love my dog because he has no sense of the past and therefore no sense of regret or blame, of revenge or retribution. Bubba is the King of Right Now.
Q: Have you ever made dog treats for your dog? If so, please share your recipe.
Bubba has borderline IBS so I get as much pumpkin into him as possible. It really helps to firm him up.
Heat oven to 350. Mix half a cup of canned pumpkin, 4tbsp molasses or honey, 2tbsp veg oil, and 4tbsp water. Add 2 cups of wholewheat flour, 1/4tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp of baking soda and 1tsp cinnamon and stir. Shape into small balls in your wet hands. Set on greased sheet and flatten a little with a fork. Bake for 25 mins until dough has hardened.
WAGGLEVIEW™: These interviews are focused on woman leaders in business, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected women in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about dogs and what these women do? This is a platform for women to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their dog!
Thank you Bunny for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview™.
Please answer the question and comment below.
If your dog were to write a poem, what would he write?