Thursday, 17 December 2009

Dogs – a man’s best friend. If you’re a dangerous and lonely sociopath.

It’s been almost three weeks since I vented my spleen about something inane and pointless. Can’t be good for my health. Anyway…

The dictum ‘a dog is a man’s best friend’* normally goes down easily, alongside lots of imaginary shots of Andrex puppies rolling around in toilet roll and floppy-haired, happy dogs frolicking and rolling around in sun-dappled fields with similarly-delighted owners.

But something shocking and profound dawned on me some morning last week, while I watched two dog-owners at the top of the hill nauseatingly make awkward ‘OH MY GOD WE BOTH HAVE DOGS so we must automatically have other things in common’ conversation. It suddenly struck me that a dog is not a man’s best friend. It’s not even close. Barely even an acquaintance.

My best friends buy me slippers for Christmas. My best friends play Fifa with me on the Playstation. Hell, my best friends talk to me. Dogs patently cannot do any of these things, and are therefore, using cold, philosophical logic, inferior friends. They can’t speak English, they don’t even know what Christmas is with no understanding of the Gregorian calendar.

And you can’t take your dog for drinks without calling the RSPCA two hours later when Fido has suddenly but violently sicked up a daquiri and a chewtoy like a comically broken turntable hastily depositing vinyls across the room at quickfire intervals.

This view paints me as a dog (and daquiri) disliker. I’m not. I like cute, fluffy, mindless and bounding animals as much as the next guy. I think the case is more that I dislike human beings who make a beeline for a domesticated animal in times of social trouble.

In later life, it strongly smells of ‘no other human being has sustained a meaningful relationship with me so I’ll opt for the next best thing which doesn’t talk back.’ In short, especially over the age of 35, dogs and cats are the domain of lonely/dangerous/sad sociopaths. There’s a reason that ‘spinster’ and ‘crazy cat lady’ go hand-in-hand these days.

Really, the only human equivalent of a dog is like saying 'I love my mute, heavily-incontinent shaggy-haired wife who lives outside in a little house'. And that’s just ridiculous and pathetic, who wants that from a person?

And OK, in an ideal world, all you get is unstinting, brainless, floppy-eared love, which is actually pretty great. But it's also like having a friendship with a cuddly toy-nee-sycophant. You can hug them when things are bad and say 'But you love me, don't you Rover?' To which Rover will bark and his eyes may appear to sparkle, to which the sad, lonely speaker will take the answer to be ‘yes, I ruvv rou rots and rots’ (in a dog voice, y' see). No dog bark actually sounds like ‘no’, after all.

But, take away the bias, and it’s very different. He might just be saying** with yelps and screaming eyes: 'No, you're a friendless loser and when you let me off that lead and I went missing all those times, you didn't take the fucking obvious hint, woman. Unbelievable. I’m going to bite you while you’re sleeping then piss on the priceless lounge rug'.

Don’t even get me started (one of those beautiful things people who are about to get started say. Just like people who say ‘No offence but…’ are always about to say something massively insulting) on the weirdos – ok, usually middle-to-upper class women with more money than sense - that dress their dogs in people clothes, thus turning them into a walking fashion statement.

They’re animals, they don’t need garments. Much like babies or mischievous old people, they're just going to get themselves dirty by excreting/vomiting/somehow getting food or dirt all over themselves. Doing this is like saying ‘I may be wearing Primark, but my dog is sooo Prada.’ A man’s best friend (or not, as I’ve said), a woman’s best accessory? The only thing I pity more than the dogs in this tortuous situation are any potential human offspring that these kind of moron women have spawned.

And so back to the two dog-walkers at the top of the hill, clinging to their banal, dog-prompted conversation as if it were the final dinghy on the Titanic. Something else dawned on me a little later.

Oddly, dogs, the sociopath’s choice, lead them back into the human social sphere. Maybe they moved on from talking about dogs, connected, went for a bite to eat. Maybe there’s hope for us all.

*No, I totally haven’t taken one accepted saying too literally and torn into it needlessly.

**One day I’ll make my millions with a dog-to-English language translator. One day.

This week Andy is loving… double duvets
Winter is cold, bitter and unloving. The nights have drawn in, the wind has an extra nip in it, you fell over on ice the other day and had to smile and brush it off as if nothing had happened when it really, really hurt, you were holding back the tears and you think you’ve cracked your femur.

But yes, winter is a bit of a bitch. But I do have a lovely solution to one problem that the season throws up. Rather than depressingly wearing layers in bed – thus waving a white flag to Mother Nature - I give you: the double duvet.

It’s dead simple. Take one duvet and put it on top of the other.

It’s so toasty. Like sleeping in an embrace. I think of the double duvet in the same way that M&S advertise food: "This isn't just sleep, this is super awesome double-duvet winter sleep."

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