Jailhouse Dog

I’ve been watching my stepdaughter’s three-year-old recently, and among other tasks this involves playing several roles through the day. I may be a baby or a monster, a pirate or our Princess’ personal assistant. Often enough I’m a willful kitten, or the dog that barks at bunnies down their heat-register holes, and chases squirrels up doorjamb trees in the living room. I’m not always a good dog though. I know I must sleep on my carpet, not on the bed, and I must never lick the Princess’ face and bare feet, but sometimes I get excited and forget. Then I have to be locked in the jail (otherwise known as the bathroom) until I’ve paid my debt to society. I’m not sure the Princess is entirely clear on how jail differs from the dog pound, for she tells me “Don’t worry, someone will adopt you!” when I protest my innocence or seek a lighter sentence.

Hard time. What’s a poor prisoner to do? Dogs can’t read, and digging escape tunnels through ceramic tile is pretty hard on the paws. So … I sing prison songs. “I’m in the Jailhouse Now”, “Fulsome Prison Blues”, “I Fought the Law” (either the Clash version or Bobby Fuller’s, as the mood takes me), Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special”, Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Rotting on Remand”, Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” or Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”. You get the idea. Trouble is, I never remember all the words to most of them. One day I started making up a new song, and the Princess seemed to like that. In fact, I suspect she’s been incarcerating me on trumped-up charges now and then just so I’ll do it more. “Sing that puppy-dog song,” she will say. When she began chiming in on the first verse, I thought I’d better finish it, and give it a happy ending. Feel free to howl along.

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Jailhouse Dog Song
[With apologies to Hank Williams, I use the tune for “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” for this. – LLF]

I’m just a lonesome puppy dog,
I never get to roam.
I’m just a lonesome dog in jail,
I’ll never get back home.

I don’t know why I’m in this jail,
Don’t know what I’ve done wrong.
All I can do is howl and cry,
And sing my lonesome song.

When you’re in jail you have no friends.
No one will rub your ears.
They never bring you doggie treats,
And each day feels like years.

Here comes the guard to bring my food,
And fill my water bowl.
He says I’ll soon get out of jail,
On something called “parole”.

But what’s this new smell in my nose?
Whose voices do I hear?
Oh it’s the people that I love!
Coming to take me out of here!

Now I’m a happy puppy dog,
I get to romp and roam!
Now I’m a dog who’s out of jail,
And now I’m going home!

–9 April, 2011

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About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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