We’re suckers for beautiful dog photography – and so when we spotted a whole book of it in Pub Dogs of Glasgow we knew we had to get our paws on a copy. It really is a delightful, characterful book – made all the more entertaining by the inclusion of poems inspired by the dogs featured in the book’s pages.
Since the Dog-Friendly Pub Awards is in its final few days (there’s still time to give your favourite local a late surge!) we thought we’d catch up with poet Graham Fulton to discover what makes his creative tail wag.
DogBuddy: Can you tell us a bit about the pub dogs project got started.
Graham Fulton: Freight Books contacted me with their idea for Pub Dogs of Glasgow, and asked if I thought I’d like to be involved. I usually do very serious poems but with lots of dark humour in them, and they knew I could be funny. They didn’t want anything too serious! I still managed to include a little bit of dark humour along with a few poems that use pathos. The publishers sent me Reuben Paris’ photographs photographs of the dogs so that I find ones I thought I could develop. It was a different way of writing for me.
Peat the Whippet, photographed in 13th Note in Glasgow
DB: How did you get a feeling for the individual personalities of the dogs?
GF: I read the Q&A profiles the owners had written and latched onto a small detail; something they liked to eat, a favourite toy or even something they wear. Sometimes the inspiration was just something in their faces from the photos that suggested an emotion, a story. For example, the hearing dog Bran had a sad, wise face so I went with that.
DB: How is writing about dogs different to how you usually write poetry?
GF: My usual subject matter is my observations about humans and how daily life can seem so absurd. I had to create a character’s viewpoint for each dog poem so that was the main difference to the norm, but once I got an idea how to go about it then it was all fairly seamless.
Eddie, a Schnauzer Cross photographed in The Bungo
DB: What did you enjoy most about the Pub Dogs of Glasgow project?
GF: Once I got a hook on the poem it was tremendous fun to do. I laughed a lot during the project. Each of the dogs in the book deserved a poem of course, but there was only so much space. We had a great book launch in Glasgow with about 30 dogs present – and they were all very well behaved! One of the poems was about a hearing dog called Bran who had since passed away and the owner came up and told me how grateful they were for the poem. That was special.
DB: Do you have any personal favourite dogs from the book?
GF: I like Randy the ‘Yeti’ dog (who inspired the humorous poem below), and Toby the three-legged dog. Both of them seemed so full of character. Among my favourite poems from the project are Randy the Labradoodle and Darcey the Dachshund. Those poems always get a big laugh when I read them live.
Below is the poem inspired by Randy the Labradoodle (pictured above), reproduced with Graham Fulton’s permission.
I’ve fooled them.
They think I’m a Labradoodle!
I’m a Yeti.
Old and wise
and beguilingly hairy.
I’m sometimes mistaken
for Billy Connolly.
I wanted to see the world
so I moved
I was tired of sneaking
on cloud-shrouded peaks,
leaving mysterious prints in
Howling my lonely song
in the dark.
I fibbed on my
I’m quite happy just sitting here
among the orange plastic chairs
listening to the sound of
the High Ones
as I slowly slide into sleep.
Dreaming of seaweed
and gritty Scottish sand.
You can stick your Himalayas!
is not all it’s cracked up to be.
And here’s another poem, featuring Darcey the Dachshund… she’s quite the diva!
This is my best side.
Or is it the other.
They’re both great.
Floppy ears and soulful eyes.
How can I fail?
Gorgeousity made manifest!
This could be my big break.
This time next week
I could be doing dog food
or auditioning for a part
in 101 Dachshunds.
It’s such a long journey,
especially when you’re
so close to the floor to begin with.
This is definitely my best side.
Nothing’s going to stop me.
All right Mister De Mille,
I’m ready for my close up.
Emmylou Rottie and Mastiff Cross – photographed in The Big Slope.
Lady, an Irish Setter photographed in The 78 Cafe Bar
Cisco, a Boston terrier at Brewdog, Glasgow
DB: What’s your reaction to the results of our survey? (1/3 of Britons struggle to find dog-friendly pubs, 70% of the UK’s dog owners search for dog-friendly pubs and nearly 1/4 of dog owners left a pub that wasn’t dog-friendly.)
GF: These statistics are pretty sad. Whenever I get to go out to a pub it’s rare to see a dog there, which is a great pity. The presence of dogs can be very calming as well as fun. There’s a long tradition of pub dogs, as the book nicely illustrates, and it would be sad if this feature of British culture died out. Personally, I can’t see how a dog being in a pub would be a problem as long as it’s just sitting there minding its own business and being a dog.
Thanks, Graham! We couldn’t agree more.
Have you been to one of the pubs featured in Pub Dogs of Glasgow? Why not give your favourite dog and drinking hangout a last minute surge in votes? These are a couple of additional Pub Dogs of Glasgow you can vote for in the awards:
The Ben Nevis
We’ve had a blast with the Dog-Friendly Pub Awards – voting is still open but the last day to cast your vote is Monday 31st October. Make sure your favourite pub doesn’t miss out on its chance to win the coveted title of DogBuddy Dog-Friendly Pub of the Year – cast your vote now!
(All photographs reproduced with kind permission from Freight Books.)