The Dog’s Learned to Spell

We had labradors when I was young and they’re among the greediest breeds. My mum used to try to avoid mentioning words like biscuit or cake as the dog went crazy.

So she decided to start spelling out the words instead. B I S C U I T. And so on. Whether the dog began to associate the emergence of the custard creams with the spelt word, or whether labradors really can spell is one for the scientists.

Anyway, it gave me this idea for a poem starring Bruce.

The big fella

Dogs have incredible powers of smell

But have you ever heard of a dog that can spell

Even when sparked in the deepest of dreams

Bruce is always alert for custard creams

A cupboard hinge squeal or a rattling tin

Will always alert this four-legged bin

We had an idea – let’s spell out each word

For a time it worked – only letters he heard

One day he spelt Nice, the next pink wafer

Now he’s eating more biscuits than we could ever pay for

Word Tins

At primary school we were given strips of card with words written on them to take home and learn.

Did anyone else do this?

This is my actual tin. One of granddad’s favourite brands of pipe tobacco. It now contains tacks rather than words but I’m glad I’ve still got it.

Crocodile written in marker pen on shirt cardboard in Miss’s bold capitals with the unmistakable, aromatic tang of granddad’s pipe.