I love these animals with their wet noses, floppy ears, and wagging tails, but I hate it when dogs bark and bark and bark, especially late at night when I’m trying to sleep. It’s not the dog’s fault. Owners leave their four-legged pets in the yard unattended while they go out or go to bed, although how they can sleep with their canine companions barking non-stop is beyond me. If you were left by yourself with nothing to do but bark, wouldn’t you be bored?

This phenomenon inspired the following two poems from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Click on the link below the poems to hear me sing a song about a dog I’m sure you’ll recognize. I hope you’re enjoying the so-called dog days of summer.


The Bark


What makes a dog bark? 

It’s something in the canine’s anatomy. 

Why do dogs bark? 

They’re excited, welcoming visitors,

warding off predators. 


Why do dogs bark late at night? 

They’re left in the yard unattended. 

Lonely, bored, cold, 

once they’re done relieving themselves,

they don’t know what else to do

but make an incessant noise that grates on one’s nerves for hours

until silenced by human intervention.


Is poetry like a barking dog?

In some ways, it is.

You read a poem, and you’re stimulated—

but a bad poem can grate on your nerves

like a barking dog in the middle of the night.

Life is “ruff,” isn’t it?


I Dream of Murder at Sunrise




I enter the yard,

having been kept awake by the incessant barking.

I feel sorry for the pooch, left unattended.


It approaches me, tail wagging in welcome.

As I stroke the white, shaggy head,

I look toward the house for signs of life.


The dog sniffs my pocket.

I remove and unwrap a small portion of hamburger

with a generous amount of rat poison kneaded into the meat.

This will put the poor thing out of its misery, and mine, I think,

as I toss it on the ground.


The hound devours it,

lies down, closes its eyes,

is gone forever.


How Much is That Doggie in the Window?


Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

2 thoughts on “Dogs

  1. People are the ones who are to blame when dogs annoy neighbours or do worse things than that. A dog was shot recently in my county because he was allowed to run loose. I don't know the details but I suppose this animal was raiding somebody's chickens or had done similar damage to a farmer's livelyhood. Dog catchers are never around in time to catch the offending animal so people do desperate things to deal with the problem. People need to take responsibility for their pets. Spay and neuter them rather than having surprise litters. Laws punishing cruelty aren't there to restrict freedom but to deal with heartless people.

  2. Hi Bruce, you're right. It's not the dog's fault, especially when it's left in the yard unattended and barks all night. The poem about murdering the dog was inspired by an actual dream I had when I managed to sleep despite the barking of my next door neighbor's dog. I'm sorry if you got the impression that I blame the dog in this case.

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