Helene Castles: ‘Our Dog’

Our Dog

A working dog, Chip drove the mob
in paddock or in yard.
He’d push ’em up or turn ’em round;
he cornered them with gambits sound,
an expert at his job.

From side to side, he scouted wide
with concentrated poise.
He barked and ranted. Raising dust.
The wayward sheep. The forward thrust.
Soft-padding to each side.

At dipping time, the work intense,
his prowess merged with pride,
he rode the mob, the chorused bleep,
from fleece to fleece he’d spring and leap,
then clear the sheepyard fence.

Chip chomped his bone and licked his bowl,
the day’s hard-earned reward.
The grey-box log was deep and warm
but Chip now weathered any storm
to fill his special role.

Our orphan, Lamb was always fun,
hand-raised and bottle-fed.
A bossy type when growing up
she played the field with kids and pup—
her heart belonged to one.

Chip nudged his nose beneath her head,
and pressed against the ewe,
both strange and tender, black and white,
with breath on breath so close at night,
her fleece and earth their bed.

Chip toiled all day, the work was hard,
he scampered home to rest.
His Lamb had gone; he yelped his plight—
no sheep to sleep with him tonight.
She’d up and left the yard!

“Have you seen Chip?” Jim asked his son.
“His meat is there untouched.”
A worry followed them to bed,
an anxious night, with nothing said,
Chip’s worth was clearly known.

Jim sipped his tea, he felt the loss,
he did the rounds in Flynn’s.
The enigmatic pair was found!
Lamb was cast. Chip pawed the ground,
then slinked up to his boss.

Our Lamb was dragged across the grass,
and hauled into the truck.
“Com’ere! Good dog!” A pat, a curse,
“get in the back, you arrant nurse!”
… and thus it came to pass.

Helene Castles

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