Thursday, August 4

#6: seven reasons why i don't want a dog (in the face of enormous pressure from my partner)

My partner seems to be labouring under the delusion that any dog he buys will be as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, perfectly formed and lovably sweet-natured as either a) a Crufts finalist or b) an Andrex puppy. To my mind, such over-inflated expectations rather resemble those of the lardy-looking ordinary bloke who assumes that his next girlfriend will look like a supermodel.

(Not that I am for one minute suggesting that my beloved is either a) lardy-looking or b) an ordinary bloke. But the comparison stands.)

Indeed, this whole romanticised notion of dog ownership strikes me as bordering on the delusional. Here are just seven of my many (so far doomed) attempts to prick his bubble. If you can think of any more good ones, then please let me know; it will all be grist to my mill.

1. As someone who values his personal space, and who is not much given to over-demonstrative displays of emotion (at least not since he stopped chucking empathetic catalysts down his neck on Saturday nights), the last thing I need when I walk through the door is some great hairy lump jumping up and slobbering all over me, with all that disturbingly limitless love and affection. I prefer such emotions to be subtly, tacitly, economically conveyed. Also, I prefer it when love is earnt, rather than arbitrarily assigned to whoever you happen to be sharing a roof with.

2. I like things to be clean and tidy. Call me prissy, but piss and shit are not my friends. Call me shallow and materialistic, but I derive a genuine sense of spiritual well-being from possessing furniture which has not been chewed up at the edges, and which doesn't carry the faint whiff of miscellaneous canine secretions. I also have no wish to put our contemporary ceramics collection into permanent storage; and all things being equal, I'd quite like to be able to carry on wearing black. (And let's not even start to think about the piss-stains on the lawn.)

3. I value a certain spontaneity in life; or at least the sense of freedom which springs from knowing that spontaneous acts are always possible. I therefore do not want to have to worry about getting home to put the dog food out, or having to trek off to the kennels before jumping on the train. This boy's style is not for cramping.

4. I don't do early mornings at the best of times. Still less would I be prepared to do early morning "walkies". In the pissing rain. With a "poop scoop" and a plastic bag. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a more perfect definition of human misery and degradation.

5. They do have this awkward habit of getting ill and then dying on you: a tragic, pitiful, agonisingly drawn out ordeal which will leave you grieving for months. So why sign yourself up for such misery in the first place? It's like a contract for heartache, and I'm just not buying into it.

6. I have a basic difficulty in forming a meaningful connection with any living creature who cannot communicate in coherent sentences. "Ooh, she knows what you're thinking." Bollocks she does. What if I'm mentally running through the UK chart positions of the Pet Shop Boys, in chronological order? I have the same issue with children under the age of seven. Once I can hold rational conversations with them, then we get along fine. But until then, spare me your sentimentality.

7. The deal-breaker, and the only argument which sticks: we both work in offices during the daytime, where dogs are not allowed. Tell me: what kind of cruel, selfish, heartless bastard would leave a dog all on its ownsome, all day long? Not I! In this respect, I speak as a true animal lover.

The trouble is: he's playing a long game. Whittling down my resistance over not months, but years. Subtly moving the debate on, from jokey repartee (the very idea!) to smiling yet intransigent persistence. In my heart of hearts, I feel my days are numbered. Seven years from now, expect to see me covered in hairs, smelling of shit, and smiling the daft, soppy smile of the convert. "Don't be scared, it means she likes you!"

What an alluring prospect. I can scarcely contain myself. But then, in this brave new world of devil-may-care slovenliness, I won't really need to.


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