For the dverse prompt.


This is not an ornament,
a chunk of nineteenth century pottery,
not just a Staffordshire dog,
staring into another world
where its mate is not.

This voiceless, hairless companion
sat by great-grandma’s chair
to be petted by children then grandchildren
then great-grandchildren,
a stray adopted from a flea market
when she was just married,
Victoria still on the throne,
and never left her side for seventy-five years.

Dog, I say, you’ve seen some changes,
been dragged across counties and countries,
and it’s not over yet.
You’ve seen them all out,
all those children,
almost all dead bones now,

and I wonder if your mirror image
sits on some mantelpiece,
thinking pottery thoughts,
longing for those puppy days
when you were twins.

This is not a poem but a piece of history,
a shard, you might say,
that has no meaning for anyone
but me and a Staffordshire dog.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

52 thoughts on “Notadog”

  1. That’s quite a piece of history in a humble ornament! I love the idea of the twin…I used to pet my grandma’s porcelain dogs but I don’t know whatever became of them!

    1. She only ever had the one, bought it because she liked it. She had so few ‘ornaments’ or anything that wasn’t utilitarian. I have it now anyway and it listens to our conversations.

      1. You’re very welcome. Some people think knick knacks are a waste of space. Others know how precious they are for the memories they keep.

      2. There’s the rubbish that we accumulate without really thinking about it and there are the objects that were ‘chosen’ that have a history. They’re the ones we should never get rid of.

  2. With my mother it was glass birds. I kept them in a birdcage for years, and just passed them to my daughter this year. I have one ceramic bluebird who’s been near me for years. I call him my bluebird of happiness, and I have 3 carved wooden knights I call my 3 wise guys. I hope some descendant gives them happy homes when I’m gone!! I loved your poem, and it brought such memories for me.

    1. Collections are difficult things to pass on especially if they’re delicate breakables. Well done for keeping your mother’s collection together and not letting your children break bits of it!

  3. What an amazing story. I can SEE it , by her chair, being stroked by children. I wish she had had a REAL dog, but it islovely she had this one and that it is still cherished by her descendents. Very cool.

  4. Jane,
    I love the story in this, the family history and playful way you put it all together. I request that somehow you print out this poem and put it with the dog. It would be a treasure for whomever it gets passed on to.

    1. Ha! I might just do that. It’s such a shame that my children never even knew their grandparents, never mind my grandparents. Didn’t live in the same country. Family stories are harder for them to imagine.

  5. A wonderful poem Jane… Love the dog and its history. Pottery doesn’t have it full beauty until it has been through the fire… this dog is sort of like us!

  6. Voiceless but witness to history: perhaps it’s just as well, so poets can imagine its untold tales and treasure this “adopted stray’s” singular companionship. 🙂

    1. He’s put out of the way of cats and dog. I’d never forgive myself if my great-gran managed to keep it all those years and children and animals for me to let one of my idiotic pets knock it over.

  7. So many memories even with the interactions of children petting it, bringing it to life. I agree with Ali…a perfect pairing, your poem and this special piece.

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