Thursday, November 12, 2009


Are you a cats or dogs person? Perhaps you're both. That's allowed. I own a cat but I love dogs.

We had a lovely dog when I was growing up. We lived in the middle east where stray dogs were ten a penny. One day my brother turned up at the house telling my mum that if we didn't take this cute grey and white bundle of fluff with beseeching eyes then it would be killed that night.

Eighteen years later and we're burying the poor old thing. Dogs are so loyal and trusting. How can anyone be cruel? When you read about dogs bred for fighting or dogs being mistreated it's so hard to understand. It's like being cruel to children. They can't fight back.

When I'm doing my fitness thing in Regents Park of a morning we always see the same dogs. There's a group of walkers who have a wide selection of pooches, from St Bernards to setters to cocker spaniels and some American has a beautiful black Newfoundland. There's an awful lot of Americans walking dogs in that park in the morning. It's so lovely with the sun dappling through the trees you forget you're in the middle of London.

There are also some pugs, which I've generally found rather tiresome, but I stroked one that ran up to us and it was really soft. I was amazed. I thought they'd be all wiry and greasy. So now they're officially cute. I still wouldn't own one though, they're too small.

But you can't like them all. Here's a short list of horrible dogs:

1. Rupert Next door's ghastly apricot poodle when I was a child, that yapped all day long and was over-indulged by its owner Mrs Jones. She'd cook it fresh liver every day and then she'd fan him as he lay on his back. I think they were unnaturally close. He'd snarl if you went near her.

2. Prince Uncle Bob's golden retriever that was really greasy to the touch, and one in a long line of retrievers that were all called Prince. Uncle Bob was an elderly cove who was gay but it was never talked about. My grandma would occasionally mention his 'friend' Steve, who was long dead but whose picture remained above uncle Bob's bed. On being shown round his new house my brother asked loudly if that was Uncle Bob's boyfriend. We were briskly moved to the next room and talked about a lovely bunch of daffs. He had a housekeeper called Barbara who had a moustache and was banished to her room except when they watched Crossroads and latterly Neighbours. Anyway Prince was hugely fat, smelled and we always had to take him for really long walks in the New Forest and just because he was a dog and we were children we were meant to like him. But we didn't.

3. Tammy A teacher's nasty little terrier that looked just like him and if you put it in a blazer and army tie then they'd be dead ringers for each other. Silly name, horried little yappy thing that shouldn't have been around children.

4. Skipper This monster was Auntie Mary's pride and joy. It was a silky Yorkshire terrier with a bow in it's hair. But when she died the responsibility went to Uncle Gilbert. But he didn't really care for Skipper very much, favouring deaf white cat Bella, so Skipper used to we up the walls. The house was one to avoid. So when he took up with Irene and moved to a bungalow in Torquay Skipper vanished. I don't think I even asked what happened to him.

5. Osky The horrid little Jack Russell was the subject of a bitter custody battle between my friend Jim and his girlfriend. He bought Osky for her, then they split up but she wanted to keep him. But so did Jim. No one else cared as Osky was a miniature irritant and not cute in the least. She barked constantly but they loved her dearly. She got to keep him, leaving him devastated. That was far more upsetting for him than splitting up with the girlfriend. He can't hear Milli Vanilli's Girl I'm Gonna Miss You to this day.


Cocktails said...

Dogs are alright - I grew up with a dog called Dougal and I coped. I just don't understand their slavish love of humans.

Bright Ambassador said...

We had a border collie called Candy which was alright. A bit old by the time I came along and it carried a horridly puce growth under its belly for years which would weep.
Then Mum talked Dad into a dacschund called Henry which ended up being a complete c**t. The final straw came when I was the only one of their children left at home, parents away on holiday, took a delightful lady back only to find Henry had somehow managed to crap on the video and left the house stinking of dogshit. No, I didn't get my oats that night. Bah!

I was away in Northumberland the other weekend and spotted an Irish wolfhound with the most impressive set of testicles I've ever seen.

Simon said...

From a long line of cat-fanciers here, it has taken me ages to get the hang of dogs. I could never cope with all that unbridled enthusiasm, and you never hear about the Dangerous Cats Act on the news either.

Still, I get along fine now with psycho Jazzy over the road and our friends' Dalmation Benson so I expect I must be growing up at last.

planet mondo said...

For years I was chased by neighbour's boxer called Misty. The owner was rotten looked just like the dog, and would come out in a nightie with her husband's sheepskin coat over the top, laughing while we jumped up trees.

A few years after this a friend owned an English bull terrier that plonked on your lap but opened an eye and growled if you tried to move it off. Bloody thing was put down eventually for attacking other dogs

Later we moved into a house with two unhinged alsations next door, constantly snarling and snapping through fence.

So all this has left me slightly phobic about dogs now.

Matthew Rudd said...

Both, obviously. If I had to choose one though it would always be a dog.

Ishouldbeworking said...

My mother-in-law had a vile bitch called Cassie, who I am convinced she had trained in secret to attack me. The first time I stayed overnight at her house (where my husband-to-be still lived at the time), Cassie came lunging for me as I came down the stairs, baying like a Hound of Hell. My mother-in-law stood back cooly and remarked "Well, you've already made one conquest in this house - you can't expect to make two."

When Cassie took The Long Walk to the vet's, I was secretly delighted.

Dr Jane said...

Any cat person will tell you, you never own your cat. It deigns to live with you, train you up to look after it, and will be nice to you if it decides you've done a good job. That's why I'd always take a cat over a dog!