Our neighbours bought a sheepdog: a heeler brindled blue,
And all was well (or so it seemed) until his faults showed through;
For when it came to penning sheep, he lost a large amount,
And bit the hand which fed him when taken to account.

They use him very seldom—he fails to take command.
For what use is a working dog who doesn’t understand?
But worst of all the many faults this mutt is known to keep,
He hangs around with bitches, and often falls asleep.

Because for now they’re stuck with him, like gum beneath a shoe,
Our neighbours built a kennel—a white house sparkling new;
And there above the entrance, in letters painted matt,
For reasons known to no one else, they named him “Democrat.”



David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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9 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, I love ‘Unfit for Purpose” (excellent title) for its rhyme, rhythm, message and highly amusing there-is-many-a-true-word-spoken-in-jest punchline. I also love it because it reminds me of a scene from Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd whereby a rogue sheepdog drives sheep into a field of clover which poisons them, and over the edge of a cliff to their death. Your poetic analogy makes me want to keep an even keener eye on our current administration.

    • David Watt

      Thanks very much Susan. I happened to watch on T.V. the film version of Far From the Madding Crowd just two weeks ago. The sheepdog scene reminded me of the poem I had recently written. It really drove home the point that
      incompetence can destroy lives and livelihoods.

  2. jd

    I like it for the same reasons Susan does
    and for the surprise and very apt ending.

  3. Margaret Coats

    Although it is fun to finish the poem and discover the dog’s name, the brilliant takeaway line here is, “Because for now they’re stuck with him, like gum beneath a shoe.” I’m going to try to remember it every time I see a picture of the individual to whom it refers–and I don’t mean one of the canine kind.

  4. David Watt

    Thank you all for your appreciation of my humorous poem.
    Margaret, the simile of gum beneath the shoe seemed highly appropriate for describing such an unwanted clinging attachment.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Great stuff David. A proper shaggy dog tale with a belter of a punchline. I am sure that the dog didn’t regard hanging around with bitches prior to falling asleep as a fault. Most of my friends do this and always regard it as a skill.
    Thanks for the smile and hope this one lands in the in-tray of the great Sir Les.

    • David Watt

      It’s true Jeff that hanging around with bitches and falling asleep isn’t generally seen as a fault. The problem only arises when duties and responsibilities are forgotten. Sir Les would probably use a few choice adjectives in sympathizing with the dog.


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