They Called Him Rags
By Edmund Vance Cooke
An Animal Rights Poem from

They Called Him Rags
By Edmund Vance Cooke

We called him “RAGS.” He was just a cur, but twice on the Western Line,
That little old bunch of faithful fur had offered his life for mine.
And all that he got was bones and bread or the leavings of soldier grub,
But he’d give his heart for a pat on the head or a friendly tickle and rub.
But we mustered out, some to beer and gruel, and some to sherry and shad,
And I went back to the Sawbones school where I was still an undergrad.

One day they took us budding M.D.s to one of those institutes
Where they demonstrate every new disease by means of bisected brutes.
They had one animal tacked and tied and slit like a full-dressed fish,
With his vitals pumping away inside as pleasant as one might wish.
I stopped to look like the rest, of course, and the beast’s eyes leveled mine;
His short tail thumped with a feeble force, and he uttered a tender whine.

It was Rags, yes, Rags! who was martyred there; who was quartered and crucified,
And he whined that whine which is doggish prayer and he licked my hand—and died.
And if there’s no heaven for love like that, for such four-legged fealty-well!
If I have any choice, I tell you flat, I’ll take my chance in hell. 

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