Black Dog Poems by KoKo and Helen


Every year in Australia about a million adults and a hundred thousand young people live with depression.  They live in a darkness that blocks them from feeling life’s happiness and joy.

Despite my being a dog, I understand a lot more about depression than most people. My Human Mum has spent a lot of her life struggling against its pull.

Mum told me one day that it was the main reason she searched for a happy little white dog to share her life. One who could help her keep the black dog at bay. She had no idea at that time that I would become such a vital part of her living. She depends on me for love, loyalty and laughter. I make her get up in the mornings and take me for a walk. She has to give me cuddles and take me to the park. I keep her from thinking too much.

At times I can see the big black dog’s shadow swamping Mum’s feelings. I can sense she feels his weight dragging her down. Other days she walks slowly as if struggling in deep mud. I know that he has hold of her and is trying to drag her backwards. On the very bad days, the Black Dog even tries to suffocate her and she cannot get out of bed.

When I heard people referring to depression as the “Black Dog” I thought it was a strange way to describe an illness. It gave my black dog friends a bad name. Now that I am older I realise it is a good term for some people to use. To them, depression is like their feelings are being swamped by an enormous furry blanket. It blocks light and weighs them down. It even follows them around persistently, just like a dog does to its owner.

My Mum Helen wrote some of these poems. As I am only ten years old my Mum had to help me to write the poems I told her. I would like humans who might be feeling suffocated by the Black Dog to understand that they are not alone. Please don’t be afraid to share your story.

Please don’t be afraid to share your story.

Black Dog Poem 1 – by Helen Potter

Black dog, Black dog

You give me such a fright

Creeping darkly into my sleep

Disrupting my calm night


You yap at my ankles

And nip at my heels

You surround me always

With no care how I feel


When I hear your deep growl

And your too familiar yelp

I know that once again

I’m going to need someone’s help


 Why do you keep returning

And causing me such pain?

Do you know how sad I feel
When you flatten me again?


You stop me from being

The kind person I am

You stop me from living life

And leave me feeling damned


Other dogs are full of love

And give so much

But I tremble and shake

At your slightest touch


Black dog, Black dog

You’re an awful hound

I wish for you, there was

A ranger and a pound!


Black Dog Poem 2– by KoKo ShakesPaw

My role as my Mum’s carer

is to keep her warm

Using my happy smile and love

to help her weather the storm  


It’s a continual fight against depression

But we always do it together

I make her get up out of bed

To walk me in any weather


I am Mum’s carer

And I love her to bits

She shows she loves me too 

by feeding me treats

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Black Dog Poem 3 – by Helen Potter

I’ve learned to like dogs at last

now that I’m no longer young

But there is one I wish would leave

Because he blocks my moon and sun


This bad Black dog says

He plans to sit and stay

How I wish so deeply

He would just go away


He does not care

That I’m crying and sad

He makes me feel low

And that I’m going mad


He nips at my heart

And bites at my soul

When he is around

I cannot be whole


Oh, how I wish the Black dog

Would find another home

Or get lost in the fog

And leave me alone


Black Dog Poem 4 – by KoKo ShakesPaw

I am my Mum’s carer

And her funny clown

I give her love and comfort

When she is falling down


I don’t ask her why

She feels so bad

I just sit by her side

Until she is less sad


My needs are important

I have to be fed

No matter what

I’ll not let her stay in bed


Black Dog Poem 5 – by KoKo ShakesPaw

Depression stalks people

When they are already down

The Black dog weighs so much 

His heaviness causes a frown


He grabs hold of black thoughts

And chucks them round your head

Round and round in a circle

Until you wish you were dead


He squashes your chest

So that you cannot breathe

Oh someone please help us

It is your strength that we need


 Seek help and someone to talk to at:

  • Act Belong Commit       
  • The Black Dog Institute
  • Beyond Blue                  

With love and Woofs from

Helen and KoKo

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