Calvin as we found him, October 2009

My pitbull Calvin was adopted a year and a half ago from the PSPCA.

When we asked about his story, we heard a horrible tale of abuse and abandonment followed by rescue and recovery and, ultimately, his second chance.

I composed a poem out of Calvin’s story for Jessie Lendennie’s wonderful book, Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology,"" published by the Salmon Press.


Here is my poem,


“Calvin’s Story”


“Make it stop, make it stop,”

was all I kept thinking;

my eyes closed, some

bully biting my body, limbs,

tearing flesh and hair—

Boys pinned me to the pavement,

each one holding a leg, holding

me down on my back.

Another boy – so there were 5?

–pressing the bully into me

head lashing at anything

it could grab with canines.

I’m surprised I didn’t black out—

Then, I remember a scuffle.

I was almost unconscious,

drifting in an out—

Two men freed my limbs,

but still I couldn’t move.

One chased the boys

while the other lifted me,

cradled me, into a van.

I’ll never forget the smell

–camphor, maybe, almost

lavender, medicinal.

The gentle one dabbed my

wounds with a wet cloth,

stroked me slowly, dabbed

–there was a lot of blood;

were there sirens? I don’t

remember sirens. (Should

there have been sirens?)

The next thing I remember

is being on a cold, metal

table – a nurse or doctor

looking me over – another

shaking her head. The first

mumbles something (all I hear

is “Dog,” that word they have

for us), then I’m sure she said,

“This one’s a keeper, let’s give

him a second chance…”

I wake in a crate, damp towel

beneath me, head swirling.

I must be in the “pound,”

there are others barking.

(I wish they would be quiet;

my head hurts.)  Then

the pretty nurse or doctor

comes in, mumbles to me;

I look up, try to smile

(this seems to please her),

and I slip in and out of sleep.

Months later,

I’m sitting on a street corner,

leashed, with some of the nice pound

people.  A lot of people pass by,

they pat my head, mumble

in that way they do, until one

couple lingers (a child or two

are with them, I can’t recall).

They mumble to the pound people;

one of them (Alpha, I’ll call him)

walks me; he has a firm hand,

but is gentle, in control.

Oh how I wish for a forever

family…but I don’t

want to get my hopes up.

Then, the day is over,

back to the pound – sigh –

guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Next night, however, there

is Alpha, and he’s brought

some others. (Oh, let me be

on best behavior so they will

take me home.) They seem

to like when I snuggle, listen,

take commands, lick the cute

young ones – they are salty sweet!

Days go by after that night,

the pound people tell me

to get ready.  Maybe, just maybe,

this is a good sign. Oh, I get so

excited my butt wiggles faster and

faster.  Finally, the day comes;

Alpha arrives with the others,

and I think, This is it. I’m going home

with my forever family…to a home;

home at last for my second chance.


–Scott Edward Anderson