Should I keep the original 'tigers' or not? I tend to think that if the original fits the 'reworked' version, keep it. So, for the moment, I will. I decided on the pairing 'snarled and sneered'. Not only does it mean what I want it to mean, it sounds good too.
I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron
And their jerking jaws and their breath right in my face.
I feared the sharp coarse panting of those dogs
Who snarled and sneered behind me on the road.
They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges
Like jackals to snatch at my fur. They dug up mud
And I scampered the other way, pretending to bark.
I longed to play with them, yet I was never allowed.
'Jackals' are the sort of animal I want here. The kind of creature I have in mind has hands, though, with long nails or claws. Can't think what such a creature might be called.
If you do want something more serious on the poem, turn to the Workshop.