You might say that Dusty, a 4 year old white female who seems to be perpetually in need of a bath, is the Poet Laureate of the Bangkok street dog community. Unlike most dogs -- whose primary aims are limited to eating and procreation -- Dusty spends the majority of her time thinking, about life and her place in the cosmos.
As a result of her navel-gazing, Dusty has achieved significant personal growth and is one of the more well-adjusted dogs you'll ever meet. Dusty’s just as happy lounging around on the dirt floor of a marketplace as she is on the sidewalk – in fact, she prefers a life of austerity, as she feels this lifestyle enables her to produce her best work.
You may be asking yourself: How does a canine Poet Laureate express herself? It's not like she can fire up the laptop and start typing out literary masterpieces, or sit down with a notebook and scribble furiously for hours. Well, as it turns out, Dusty is quite a resourceful dog, and she has mastered the technique of finding areas of freshly laid cement all over the capital, and then using it as a canvas for her works of canine literature.
Dusty ‘writes’ her poetry by leaving patterns of footprints in the wet cement that only other dogs can read and understand. Her works -- most of them brimming with humor and optimism -- explore simple themes of Bangkok street dog life such as hope, hunger, unrequited love, and the desire to chase cats.
In the following excerpt from her most famous work, "Ruminations on a Chicken Breast", Dusty examines the pathology of desire and offers a roadmap for how to avoid its destructive effects:
"In the shop window, a roasted bird
if I could take you, without being heard.
Happiness would be mine!
But alas, I am just a wretched hound
But it could be worse - I could be in the pound."
Writing poetry in wet cement is risky work – Dusty told me she has had a few close calls with road workers who have seen her at work and not been able to appreciate the subtle nuances of her craft. But Dusty is determined to continue to express herself on Bangkok’s sidewalks, as there are few other artistic outlets for canine artists in the capital.