It’s Going to be a Dog’s Life…
Posted on March 1, 2013
My life with domestic pets has, at best, been a chequered one. I have owned lots of pets but generally ones that have the brain span of the Chelsea FC “Benitez baiters” who are soiling the name of this great sporting nation with their witless, Neanderthal like protests against the “interim manager” of their football club.
My first animal was a Guinea pig, the obligatory maiden domestic pet of a small child, it is an animal that seems to live out its life in a permanent state of terror; I can’t remember its name but as I recall, it had a fatal heart attack when my Dad’s Hillman Super Minx backfired on the front drive. Then there was the originally named ‘Thumper’ a rabbit that my mother rescued from the wringing hands of a demented yokel at The Ship Inn at Ashford Hill; Thumper led a reasonably happy life for a year or two though sadly, unlike a cat, he only had one life and was torn to shreds by our next door neighbours dog.
More rabbits and guinea pigs followed and there was also a another mother pub rescue in the form of a sprightly cockerel that woke the entire neighbourhood at 4.00 am every morning before it disappeared in highly suspicious circumstances (gunshots were heard) just a few weeks later. There then followed a long sabbatical before I had children of my own and the spectre of having domestic pets raised its ugly head once again. There was a guinea pig, Fudge, that froze to death, and a black rabbit that in an act of political correctness, George called Leroy as a tribute to the then Reading striker, Leroy Lita.
Like his namesake Leroy faded after early promise and turned out to be an economic disaster as the poor bugger developed severe dental problems, with one trip to the vet not only costing me £120.00 but also my dignity. Sitting with a black rabbit in a waiting room full of people as the tannoy announcer said “Can Leroy go to room four please?” was not my finest moment. Leaving the premises of a veterinary surgeon feeling like a member of the Klu Klux Klan carrying toothless black rabbit was about as surreal as life gets without taking LSD. As you can well imagine, teeth on a rabbit are quite a vital component and after a few weeks licking carrot puree, Leroy went to that big warren in the sky.
Some tropical fish followed, but they were about as interesting as listening to an album by The Lighthouse Family and without sounding too much of a snob, tropical fish tanks have a canny knack of making your house look like something out of Shameless, so I dealt with the ‘Fish problem’ by flushing them down the toilet whilst the kids were in bed. Such was the interest in these tedious creatures; it wasn’t until several years later that Harry said “Whatever happened to our fish tank?”
Another sabbatical ensued, but over the last year I have had an increasing desire to own the pet of all pets…A dog! This is partly because I like nothing more than a riverside walk and without a dog I am only one pair of thick spectacles and some nylon trousers away from being reported as a potential sex offender. It was okay back in the days when the kids liked walking with me, but they won’t now, not unless that is, I buy a dog. A potential offer of a Cocker Spaniel came up late last year and my mind was made up, but the would be mother, Poppy, has, so far, decided that she is not ready for a good seeing to. Is that fate telling me not to do it?
Darcey: Our special guest for the weekend
It is with some coincidence and perhaps little fate, that I now have a girlfriend who has a Cocker Spaniel, a lovely brown one that at six years old, is yet to show any signs of being incapable of running John ‘O’ Groats and back in one day; she wears you just watching her for ten minutes. However, I have already become quite attached to her and this weekend I have the opportunity, with the kids, to test ourselves to see if we are genuine potential dog owners. Justine (my girlfriend) is taking her daughters to London for the weekend and is entrusting us with this very unique guest and actually, I can’t wait, I think it will be great fun.
It is now a case of watch this space…At the very least, I will be able walk the banks of the River Test without causing unnecessary alarm to fellow walkers.