Dog-ku: Very Clever Haikus Cleverly Written by Very Clever Dogs

Dog-ku: Very Clever Haikus Cleverly Written by Very Clever Dogs

5.0 1
by Steve D. Marsh

View All Available Formats & Editions

Have you ever wondered what dogs are thinking? Or how they see their world? Steve D. Marsh became an "accidental dog whisperer" one day when he sensed his Black Lab-Rhodesian Ridgeback was trying to tell him about an idea for a book of haiku. What resulted was Dog-ku, a genuinely funny celebration of dogs (and their issues!). Featuring haiku on topics

…  See more details below


Have you ever wondered what dogs are thinking? Or how they see their world? Steve D. Marsh became an "accidental dog whisperer" one day when he sensed his Black Lab-Rhodesian Ridgeback was trying to tell him about an idea for a book of haiku. What resulted was Dog-ku, a genuinely funny celebration of dogs (and their issues!). Featuring haiku on topics ranging from treats, food, and hygiene to commentary on cats, squirrels, and other breeds, Dog-ku tackles the wonders and frustrations of dog life from a dog's perspective. Utterly irresistible and totally relatable for dog-loving humans of all breeds, Dog-ku is sure to have you laughing in a mere three lines and seventeen syllables!

Advanced Praise for Dog-ku:

"Funny furry words
A sweet book to give; to get
Warm wise and woofy."
--Mordecai Siegal, bestselling author of Dog Spelled Backwards

"It's a dog's life! Zac and Steve tell it like it is with charm, wit, and thoughtfulness....A must-read for all dog owners who hear the lovely sound of their dogs' hearts and voices in their heads." --Charlotte Reed, author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette

Read More

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
6 MB

Read an Excerpt


By Steve D. Marsh

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Wordsmith Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9395-1


Confessions of an Accidental Dog Whisperer

I'm not crazy, or at least not in that way. I know dogs don't talk. I know ESP doesn't exist, or at least I know I don't have it. But there I was one day, back in 1997, out in the backyard, picking rhubarb for a pie, when I distinctly heard from directly behind me, "Hey, I've got an idea."

Thinking I had been alone, I turned and was surprised to find no one there — no one except Zac, my (at the time) two-and-a-half-year-old Black Lab–Rhodesian Ridgeback cross. He looked at me with eagerness, maybe even earnestness. But I attributed the words to be nothing more than the background chatter that goes on inside an idle human mind, and I turned back to my rhubarb duties.

Almost immediately, I heard, "Hey! I said, I've got an idea."

Again, I turned to see only Zac, but this time it seemed that something about his usually soft brown eyes implied more than simple earnestness. He seemed to have a little irritation mixed in as well, like he was dealing with a creature of slightly diminished capacity, and he was on the edge of worn patience. "I want to write some poems," I heard. And Zac's head seemed to move in sync with the appropriate emphasis of the words. At that moment, I knew I was crazy ... or it was still the '60s ... or I needed medication ... or, maybe, Zac was talking to me psychically.

Tentatively, I said out loud, since I didn't know how to project through ESP, "What kind of poems?"

"I'm thinking something pithy. Short. Truthful. But in form. Nothing says truth like the discipline of form."

"You mean like sonnets or villanelles?"

"No, even shorter."

"Ah, limericks!" I guessed, now immersed in the conversation and willing to set aside that I was likely suffering some kind of psychic break with reality.

"No, nobody reads limericks anymore. I want something that will reach the masses." Zac turned from me and seemed to pace, engrossed in thought. "I think I want to write a series of haiku."

I protested, "But no one in America reads haiku either. Haiku isn't even a form with much of a history in English."

And, of course, about then I realized the absurdity of the argument I was having with my dog. It was also true that no one in America reads poems written by dogs. It's not like critics could resist the use of the word "doggerel" in making a review. My responses became dogged. I trotted out additional arguments.

But Zac remained unswayed.

"Write this down," he said.

I remained incredulous.

"No, really, write this down. You can't expect me to do it." Zac stood feigning additional patience, while I put away my rhubarb knife. We went back in the house, I put the rhubarb in the sink and looked for writing materials.

"You know, this whole syllable counting thing would have been easier if you hadn't removed my thumbs," Zac grumbled.

"Those weren't thumbs; those were dew claws and the vet said you'd be happier without them." I protested.

"Easy for him to say. Did he still have his thumbs when he said that?"

I knew where this conversation was going to end up. I wondered how long until he was going to make me feel guilty for neutering him. Whether it was my guilty feelings or if he simply let me off the hook, he said, "Write this down."

The paperboy comes.
He wants to murder us all!
Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!

I was astounded. It was a masterful first attempt (for a dog) I thought. It fit the 5-7-5 syllable form. It seemed to capture a single moment in time. It conveyed a great deal about the emotional state of the charged moment. Each line stood on its own in its own emotional space. And, in typical American amendment to the form, it contained a punch line in the final line. All of the elements of the renewed and amended American form of the haiku were in place. And this from a two-and-a-half-year-old Lab-Ridgeback.

"That's 18 in dog years, don't forget," Zac interjected.

And thus began Zac's literary career. He is nearly eleven and half years old now (that's over 80 in those dog years) and his mind is still sharp. And even though his night vision is plagued by worsening cataracts, he remains clear headed and mentally alert, despite having lost a step or two in the flat-out run. Just the other day he offered up this one:

Dry dog food is hard.
Yet my old teeth are harder.
Canned food is for cats.

I presume he will remain a stoic to the end.

What follows is a commentary on his art and life from America's first dog of literature, as channeled through me. I am honored to bring this to the world's literate audiences.

I should make one final comment on dog channeling. Some of these poems have come from other dogs. Some are offered by our German Shepherd–Lab cross, E.D. Zac and E.D. actually released a small volume of these poems through The Wordsmith Press and worked their way through obedience school on those proceeds. Other haiku come from many dogs I have known and who have entrusted me with their artistic contributions to the genre. Special thanks to the following contributors of more than one or two random poems:

Belle, a fat Beagle
Harley, a wiry Pit Bull cross
Tio, a Dalmatian
Hawk, an English Sheepdog–Bouvier cross

Although some of these early dog poets have crossed over, their contributions to art live on.

— Steve D. Marsh, Accidental Dog Channe

March 19, 2007

Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist

Hello. My name is "Zac," although that is not my whole name and it was not my first name.

I was born on November 10, 1995, to a kind Labrador Retriever with soft brown eyes. We lived on a farm in rural Washtenaw County, Michigan. My father was a Rhodesian Ridgeback who had jumped his fence a time or two and I have inherited his haircut. It has earned me respect in my lifetime. There were four of us back then, myself and my three sisters. Only I had the Ridgeback markings along my backbone. The young boy on the farm named me Bear. I suppose I was a little round back then and bigger than my sisters. Mom was a good provider. There were eight feeding stations: one each for my sisters, and five for me.

But one day, Boss and Mrs. Boss came to the farm. I remember Mrs. Boss was wearing a beautiful red wool coat. Folks say dogs are color blind, but they are wrong. I loved that red coat. It was the same color as Mom's collar. It made me feel at home. I slept on that coat in Mrs. Boss's lap all the way into town.

Boss and Mrs. Boss took me home to their children. It was Christmas Eve. Hey, I don't make this stuff up! They were both English teachers and they spent two days trying to find a good literary name for me. But I puzzled them. I loved food. They had to find a literary name that acknowledged my first love. And women. I loved women, too. There is nothing better than really getting to "nose" a woman. And then they struck upon it. They named me Honoré de Balzac. Great writer, great lover, great eater. It was a perfect name and one I am proud to bear to this day, or that is to say, I should have been proud if they had not truncated it so badly.

First, there were a few (really not more than a few dozen) "accidents" on the floor. I would make a mistake, and promise not to do it again (and I really meant not to do it again), but soon, I'd make another mistake. And another. And another. It didn't take long for Boss to say that there was no Honor in my promises and I became just "de Balzac." And then the "de" went away. It was just easier to say "Balzac." And for several weeks, my name was Balzac. Then one fateful day, Boss took me to the veterinarian, for what he called a "minor" procedure, and when I came home, I was just "Zac." No more "Balz." And so I have remained for the rest of my life.

That operation was intended to adjust my attitude and to keep me closer to home. In some ways it worked. It permitted me to focus more on my art and to work with fewer distractions. I'm not certain it was worth the tradeoff, but the tradeoff was made nonetheless. It taught me an important lesson. Less is more.

Sometime during the early summer of my third year, late adolescence for a dog, I struck upon the idea of being a poet. And I would not be one of those frilly, pretentious poets like at the University. (We lived in Ann Arbor at that time.) I decided to be a poet that told the truth in the language of real Americans. I would tell the innermost feelings of the all-American dog. And my vehicle would be the densest form of poetry of all: the haiku. It didn't take long to run off a string.

Boss already told you about my first composition regarding the torment inflicted upon the American dog by paperboys. It was a revelation to find my frustrations take voice in my art. I soon turned my poetic voice to other feelings.

The American experience:

Like America,
I am a mixed-breed canine —
I walk tall and proud.


In democracies
Lineage doesn't matter.
I am Melting Pot.

My personal heritage:

My great-grandfather
Chased big cats in Rhodesia.
It is my birthright.

And it seemed as my skills grew, my courage to say the difficult things increased commensurately. Now, near the end of my life, I am honored (see the cycle?) with the publication of this volume of my work.

I would like to thank many for helping in this production: Boss and Mrs. Boss for always being behind me (especially when I slipped my collar and ran around the neighborhood); E.D., my sister-canine-in-crime, who composed many of these haiku with me; my human sisters Abbey, Sarah, and Maggie (especially Maggie, one of the finest dog whisperers I have ever met); my human brother, Dylan, who is a big fat jerk who never comes home to visit me anymore (Dylan, you're worse than a Siamese cat, and there's nothing worse.); my friends Hawk, Belle, and Harley up northwhere a dog doesn't have to be chained up; my late friend, Tio, a Chicago Dalmatian who taught me the joys of pillows; and John Parsley, my editor, who read a copy of Dog Daze and "discovered" me. Thank you John.

Finally, I would like to thank every dog I have sniffed who has ever sniffed me back. You are my brothers and sisters and I write these for you, especially this haiku, conveyed in tones too high for a human to hear. For all dogs of all breeds everywhere:

! ! ! ! !
! ! ! ! ! ! !
! ! ! ! !

And that's the truth!

I am honored.


Honoré de Balzac, Dog Haikuist


They say the best defense is a strong offense.
Wrong. The best defense is a strong dog.
— Zac

The paperboy comes.
He wants to murder us all!
Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!

I like to scare folks
Who walk obliviously.
I leap off the porch!

When the Boss is gone
People walking by our door
Hear my mighty bark.

If I could sniff out
That Osama bin Laden
I would bite him hard.

I bite the big dog.
He is so slow and clumsy.
I run away fast.

I am not afraid
Of you or anything but
The vacuum cleaner.


They say integrity is its own reward.
Wrong. I like pig ears.
— E.D.

It is Halloween.
Small children ring our doorbell.
May I eat just one?

You act so angry
When I chew your leather shoe.
It was very good.

It is my nature
To be a chewing creature:
Shoes, belts, chairs, your hand.

No matter what, the
Butter dish is off limits,
Even at midnight.

I don't feel so well.
I think I'll eat some tall grass.
Ack! Puke. That's better.

SPAM is good on bread
Hot or cold, but no damn good
In a garbage bag.

To the God, Hormel,
Thank you for sending us SPAM,
Food of the angels.

My picture outside.
Luscious food on the inside.
Not a doggy bag?

You are home! But you
Forget to give me a treat.
Where is the justice?

You are home! And you
Give me a giant pig ear.
I do puppydance.


They say let sleeping dogs lie. Wrong.
Let sleeping dogs sleep. We never lie.
— Zac

You keep asking me
Why I climb up on the couch.
Because it is there.

Dog math is easy.
Eat: One-tenth, Poop: one-tenth, Sleep:
Whatever is left.

All sleeping is good,
But on the couch is better.
On your bed is best.

When the Boss is gone
I sleep hard on the sofa.
She pretends I don't.

Napping is hard work.
Still, I must get up and eat,
Then I'll take a nap.


They say the pun is the lowest form of humor.
Wrong. Cats are the lowest form of humor.
— Zac

Father O'Brian
Spells "dog" backward but he too
Wears a stiff collar.

Male dogs are called "dogs."
Female dogs are called "bitches."
Seems so judgmental.

I love my mother.
You call me son of a bitch
Like it's a bad thing.

My verse is unique.
It is not "mere doggerel."
That critic has fleas.

The Iditarod
Makes but a single demand:
Press on doggedly.


They say dogs are man's best friend. Wrong.
You have it backward.
— Zac

You speak so proudly
Of dog domestication.
We adopted you!

Dogs see black and white
But deep inside my dog heart
I'm your pal — true blue

My tail goes spastic
When you come in from outside.
You've been gone minutes!

If I had some thumbs
I could type my own haiku.
I wouldn't need you.

I smell the rabbit.
Tell the Boss to come help chase!
Bow-woooo, Bow-wooooo-oooooo.

On a summer day
When there's no one else around,
Fleas can be your friends.

Dog energy is
Contagious to my people.
Let's all jump and bark.
You got a dog door!
I have never been this free.
Out. In. Out. In. Out.

Dude, where's the Frisbee?
Throw it! Throw it! Throw it now!
Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun andbringitback.


They say old habits die hard. Wrong.
Bruce Willis dies hard. Old habits last forever.
— Zac

I don't need TV.
I can spend hours on the floor
Content with a bone.

Genes make me turn 'round
Three times before I lie down.
It's not OCD!

Roll over, lie down,
Sit, stay, heel, fetch, come, shake, speak.
What else do you want?

I don't shed that much.
Just enough to decorate
Your brand-new dress pants.

I can catch my tail
Behind me now, behind me
It's still behind me.

Why no dog congress?
'Cuz we can't stop sniffing butts.
Oh wait! That's the same.

Do dogs play poker?
Only late at night, smoking
Pipes and fat cigars.


They say he's eating out of my hand. Wrong.
If it's a dog, he's eating out of your trash.
— Zac


Dog food for breakfast.
Dog food for midday repast.
Dog food for dinner.

Dog food for night snack.
It's so dry and crunchable.
It's predictable.

I found Nirvana.
It was right here all along
In the kitchen trash.

When you're at my house,
Boss and Mrs. Boss serve one
Kind of dog food — Mine!

The Man is my boss
But Lady Boss makes my food.
My heart is more hers.

How long will I stay?
For food there is no end to
Canine loyalty.

Dry dog food is hard.
Yet my old teeth are harder.
Canned food is for cats.

Cats (and Squirrels)

They say curiosity killed the cat.
Wrong. It was a dog.
— Zac

If that cat comes by
Just once when I'm off my chain
I'll make cat-burger.

Chasing terrorists
Is more fun than chasing cats,
But they taste much worse.

Those fuzzy squirrels
Have so far escaped my jaws
But some day ... some day.

In my twitching dreams
I'm a dog army of one.
Chasing hoards of cats.

Squirrels on the deck
Make me press my nose against
The doorwall and smear.

You brought me a cat?
Why do you demote me? I'm
Deeply offended.


They say beauty is only skin deep. Wrong.
I've seen some beautiful bones.
— Zac

My brand-new collar
Is bright red with white rhinestones.
I look marvelous.

I have been smelling
That dead rabbit for two days.
Ahhh ... perfume for me.

When you yell at me
I am base, contemptible,
Worthless, wretched, wrong.

Who built this dog house?
It looks like a bordello.
It's embarrassing.

It's not that I'm fat —
Just short for my girth and weight.
Damn my little legs!

I am a girl dog.
Even I have been to school.
Some humans are fools.

In democracies
Lineage doesn't matter.
I am Melting Pot.

I don't fit my ears.
They flop around when I run.
I am still regal.

Winter approaches.
Hair grows in my foot pads like
A frikkin' Hobbit.


Excerpted from Dog-ku by Steve D. Marsh. Copyright © 2008 Wordsmith Press. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Dog-ku: Very Clever Haikus Cleverly Written by Very Clever Dogs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TomSanchezPrunier More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader and writer of haiku, I was pleasantly surprised to find an volume of haiku written entirely by dogs. Steve D. Marsh does an excellent job of translating his dogs, Zac and E.D. as they express modern dog concerns like toughness, sex appeal and poop.

Marsh and Co. do not stray from controversy. Included are haiku about Osama bin Laden, mutt lineage and sleeping on the couch when the master's not around. Plus, the evolution of the pug as a combination of a greyhound at full speed meeting a shovel is the priceless wit dogs in the literary community just don't write anymore.

This is an excellent collection of American haiku for canines and humans alike. An ideal gift for lovers of poetry, dogs, laughter and literature, "Dog-Ku" will stay with you for a while -- not unlike a German shepherd does the ice cream truck.