Compare and contrast the treatment of dogs in ‘To Flush my Dog’ and the RSPCA leaflet

Category: Dog, Gender, Love, Poetry
Last Updated: 12 Mar 2023
Pages: 4 Views: 98

“To Flush, My Dog” written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the RSPCA leaflet “ Just $3 a month will help rescue more animals like Trio” are two documents exploring the same topic - treatment of dogs. Both documents depict how the owners treat their dogs differently showing the love and bond between dogs and humans. In “To Flush, My Dog”, Elizabeth appraises her dog in a very elaborated manner, while RSPCA documents look at animals from another perspective. Though the theme is the same, the aim of writing is very different. Elizabeth’s love for her dog is contrasted with the maltreatment by some owners whose dogs are subsequently rescued by RSPCA. Similarities, differences and impacts of such treatments will be discussed.

“Nevermore, to pat thee!” (Stanza 16, line 6) Elizabeth uses archaic words like “thee and ‘thy’ to emphasize the importance of Flush to her. Their intimate relationship is shown through physical affection like patting and stroking. However, there is not any physical affection between Trio and its owner. Trio was physically abused. It was squeezed and grabbed in the belly. The wound is so serious that ‘the owner has been ‘prosecuted and is banned from keeping animals for five years’. Readers can be easily moved by such violent scenes.

Elizabeth provides Flush with a cozy home. She takes good care of it, feeds it with sugared milk and gives it some pretty collars to wear. Similarly, the staff in RSPCA treated the terribly injured and physically abused dogs with devoted care around the clock, hoping that they would recover as soon as possible. This shows the provision of love and care by dog lovers beyond basic necessities such as food and shelter. However, Poppy and Trio are not as fortunate as Flush. ‘As she swept along the drain pipe’, saved it from certain death’ (Poppy’s story, line 10) elaborates the miserable fate of Poppy or other unfortunate dogs. Poppy is not even provided with a proper home. It was rescued by the owner’s neighbor when she swept along the drain pipe.

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In “To Flush, My Dog”, readers are bewildered to see such a beautiful and loving dog which understands its owner. “Fawning, fondling, breathing fast” (stanza 11, line 4) is an alliteration used to describe that Flush is a caring and affectionate dog. This creates a drumming effect to attract reader’s attention on how pleasing and attentive Flush is. ‘No man break thy purple cup’ (stanza 17, line 5) is a metaphor used to show how loyal Flush is to its owner. ‘Purple’ is the colour of loyalty. ‘No man’ is used to describe the indispensable role of Flush.

Nobody can replace his role. It alludes Flush is very loyal to its owner and it is the best companion to her. Repetition of the word ‘benediction’, which means blessing, is used in the passage to emphasize that Elizabeth feels very blessed to have such a loving friend. This is reinforced by ‘Mock I thee, in wishing weal?’ which reiterates that Flush is a true blessing to her.

This makes a big contrast to the treatment of Trio reported in the RSPCA leaflet, where its irresponsible owner smashed it against a cupboard with full force just because it made a mess in the bedroom. The first paragraph in Trio’s Story successfully grasps readers’ interest on why Trio’s owner ‘saw red’.

The reaction of the dogs in these two passages was also very different. Flush is a caring and loyal dog. It sits beside the writer when she is sick. Rather than playing with other dogs, it stays with its owner. Flush is considerate and thoughtful that it comforts the owner when she cries. It trusts its owner. This alludes again the mutual love and affection between Flush and Elizabeth. On the contrary, Trio crawled away from its owner and hid under a cot after his owner smashed him against a cupboard. This suggests how ruthless the owner is and how sick their relation is.

The purpose of writing these two documents is very different. “To Flush, My Dog” is written to show appreciation to dogs and it shows that Flush is a true blessing to her. However, the RSPCA leaflet is written to appeal for donation provided with two convincing and touching stories. This is done by the inspector’s candid attempt to convey the message. “Dear Friend” (first line in the letter) is what the inspector addresses the potential donors and general public. This successfully triggers emotions and thoughts from the readers since someone they don’t know is directly addressed in a friendly manner.

The structures of the two poems are very different. “To Flush, My Dog” is a poem with rhyming words in the first two lines and 4th, 5th lines in every stanza. There are a total of 20 stanzas with six lines each. Examples of rhymes are plenty, like ‘brown, breast, rest’ in the second stanza and ‘height, delight’, ‘line and thine’ in the last stanza. In the RSPCA leaflet, there are two touching stories of physically tortured dogs-Trio and Poppy and a letter from the inspector of RSPCA with an aim to appeal donation for helping the poor animals. The structure is modern English.

Both documents use a lot of emotive and convincing language. “In just one year we rescued 6982 abused and neglected animals”. The use of figures and emotive languages “neglected”, “abused” successfully are deployed to arouse reader’s attention and sympathy. It also allows readers to realize the seriousness of the situation. Other words like ‘struggle, neglected, abused, terribly injured’ are also used to emphasize the suffering of the dogs like Trio and Poppy, and thus appeal for help, support and donation for the RSPCA.

In the poem ‘To Flush, My Dog’, Elizabeth describes her dog as ‘pretty, supportive and benediction’, to suggest the mutual love between Flush and Elizabeth. The first stanza – “Gentle fellow –creature” is echoed at the end of the poem when it proclaims “ Loving fellow – creature!” showing the rapport towards her ‘fellow’.

Both “To Flush, My Dog” and the RSPCA leaflet articulate the love and bond between human and dogs, which is shown by Elizabeth and inspector respectively. Elizabeth’s close relationship with Flush is contrasted by the ruthless ones of Trio’s and Poppy’s. The structure and the style of these two documents differs to a great extent but the use of language shows some similarities. The greatest similarities are the writers’ excellent ways of articulating their ideas and to influence the readers.

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Compare and contrast the treatment of dogs in ‘To Flush my Dog’ and the RSPCA leaflet. (2016, Aug 16). Retrieved from

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