I would like to dedicate today’s post to my best friend, Tucker.
“To a Stranger Born in Some Distant Country Hundreds of Years from Now”
By Billy Collins
Nobody here likes a wet dog.
No one wants anything to do with a dog
that is wet from being out in the rain
or retrieving a stick from a lake.
Look how she wanders around the crowded pub tonight
going from one person to another
hoping for a pat on the head, a rub behind the ears,
something that could be given with one hand
without even wrinkling the conversation.
But everyone pushes her away,
some with a knee, others with the sole of a boot.
Even the children, who don't realize she is wet
until they go to pet her,
push her away,
then wipe their hands on their clothes.
And whenever she heads toward me,
I show her my palm, and she turns aside.
O stranger of the future!
O inconceivable being!
whatever the shape of your house,
however you scoot from place to place,
no matter how strange and colorless the clothes you
I bet nobody there likes a wet dog either.
I bet everybody in your pub,
even the children, pushes her away.
Oh, how Tucker can create a stink. Nobody anywhere in the world can create a foul odor with such little effort as my dog. When he is wet, dumpsters bow down humbly before him. When he is gassy (which is most days) sewer pipes sing his name. So when I read this Billy Collins gem a few weeks ago, my first thought was, poor dog; he’s so mistreated.
My favorite of Tucker’s many endearing habits is when he farts. (Forgive the crassness, but sometimes it’s necessary to fully embrace the human condition.) When he is sitting, looking aloof and forlorn in that woe-is-me manner that only dogs can successfully project, sometimes he lets one fly. It’s generally a squeaky fart, one that is reminiscent of a balloon that is losing its air. Well, I just fall to pieces laughing every time because when he does it, he turns his head and looks back down at his own backside. I can just hear his thoughts; where did that noise come from? Oh, how I laugh! Every time, like a baby with a newly-discovered plush toy, I laugh. The look on his face is just priceless, and imagining him puzzled by the sound just puts me over the edge.
So what does any of this have to do with this poem? Well, not too much other than the fact that the smell of the wet dog that is ignored makes me think of Tucker. The poems works on that dry-humored level that only a few poets have mastered. There are some real universal truths, Collins seems to say, and one of them is that nobody likes the smell of a wet dog.