Wednesday, July 24, 2019

I'm No Dog Hater...

..but it's the owners who sometimes get on my wick.

So I'd arranged to go out with my mate P the other evening. I've known him for years and I suppose I'd probably class  him as my best friend, though I'm not sure if 53 year olds are allowed to have "best friends" these days.

And P has this dog, one of the small furry ones, called Robert (not his real name). Now really and sincerely I mean it when I say I'm not a dog, or any other animal for that matter, hater. No, they're okay to me. I don't go all gooey eyed with them, but nor do I treat them with scorn and derision, the way I treat lead singers.

Most of my relationships with cats and dogs have involved the two of us looking at each other with vague disinterest, perhaps the occasional stroke or pat on the head. And I'm quite happy and content with the status quo.

One of my business partners has owned (or been owned by) a dog for years and in our early days he used to bring him into the office everyday. I confess I remember that dog, Taffy, with some fondness.
We'd often kick a ball around together or I'd give him a slightly fond stroke, maybe tell it a little joke or anecdote or two.

But the thing I struggle with is these fellows who treat their dog as if it's a human. Or worse, as if it's a highly intelligent child. Let's face it, surely any animal that can be trained to sit or heel or that can get endless hours of fun from fetching a stick can't actually be very bright.

The average cat, a species I reckon is pretty bright, on attempting to be trained, just looks at you with a "fuck off, I'm not doing that" demeanour, then slopes off to its lair, like Jeeves but with a bit more attitude.

So anyhow, I digress. P emailed me yesterday to say that he had Robert with him so he suggested we take the mutt for a walk along the river then go for something to eat. Like a typical Brit, about 30 seconds later I'd replied saying that sounded great. Then I spent many hours afterwards thinking that I should have cancelled, for P with his dog is like a dog with a bone.

He turned up, with Robert on his tail, though P hasn't got a tail, but Robert has. Robert sniffed around my apartment, I assume because it was new to him. To be fair Robert is a pretty well behaved dog. There was no barking, histrionics or running around with saliva dripping everywhere. I managed to keep my cool, as did Robert.

After some chit chat we set off to take Robert for the walk before getting some dinner for ourselves. Now I hadn't decided that I wanted to join P and Robert on this walk, nor had I been given a choice, it was just assumed I'd happily go. This is what I mean. If I want to go for long walks with a dog, one who yaps at cyclists and all that, then I'd get myself one.

You know me. All those thoughts were going on in my head, but the rest of me just went along with things.

Dog owners have this thing, a way of interracting with each other and each other's dogs that freaks me out a bit. And every time we came across another dog, or its owner, there'd be that mutual admiration, laughing, smiling and "ooh look at us being members of the same tiny little club" thing going on between P and the other person. I was worried that the other owners might think I was the owner of Robert and therefore would expect me to join in the shenanigans, so more often than not I kept a suitable distance.

At one point Robert decided to have a shit in the grass, as I'm told animals do. I was pleased that P got out one of those dog poo bags from his pocket and did the decent thing, putting it in a nearby bin afterwards.

Finally we found ourselves in a dog friendly restaurant on the river. Waitresses were cooing over Robert and one brought out a bowl of water for him. P was very much the proud father and I sat there trying to look cool yet doing my utmost so that people didn't think me and P were a gay couple with their dog. Perhaps that's a bit homophobic, but I'm giving you some honesty, so please don't judge me too harshly.

For the next couple of hours P continued to fuss and fawn over Robert, as did quite a few staff and fellow diners. I just don't understand it and, though he did quite like some of the attention, Robert didn't really seem too fussed about it either. It was warm, he had a bowl of water and P told me that he had trained Robert not to be one of those dogs that drools at the table waiting for scraps of food.

I was very jittery at one point when P decided that we would share a mixed starter. It was all pitta bread and humus type stuff, you know, that mush that they serve in Lebanese places. I'm no hygiene obsessive but I was very concerned about the dog shit situation from earlier. Fortunately, with only seconds to spare, P announced to me that he was going to wash his hands so I exhaled happily.

We ate. Robert did his thing, which was pretty low maintenance, and then we left to go back to my apartment for a cup of tea, as our rock 'n' roll days are over.

Robert wandered around my place cheking things out for a bit, then settled on my doormat and lay there whilst P and myself drank tea. At one point P started to play with Robert, which resulted in him yapping and making dog noises and getting all excited about life. P was impressed with this, as if his only son had just been asked to head up NASA before he'd left school. I didn't share the enthusiasm and looked on trying my hardest to sound a little bit impressed.

And they left.

All in all I have to say that Robert was about as low maintenance as dogs get.

He's not my enemy, but he's not my child, and I just don't understand the fuss these fellows make.

Besides I don't think I've ever treated either of my kids the way these people treat dogs. Honestly.

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