My Uncle Brian and his Alsatian
Unless there is a very good reason for it, like being a shepherd or a police dog handler or something, I have simply never been able to understand why people keep dogs. I prefer cats because they are so much more intelligent and generally speaking don’t go around attacking people, although I am not including man-eating tigers in this statement, obviously.
Let me apologise right now to canine lovers but I just do not like a single thing about dogs, how stupid they are, how greasy they are, the smell they make and especially the way the tongue hangs out of the mouth dripping saliva everywhere. What I do not understand is why would people ever think of keeping dogs in the first place? On a pet scale they are just slightly less pointless than stick insects. They generally serve no purpose, if you don’t keep them clean they can make the house smell unpleasant, they cost a small fortune in food and air freshener, you have to take them for a walk and pick up their poo in a a little plastic bag and worst of all they are a complete nuisance when you want to go on holiday. Let me illustrate the point, if an average dog lives for fifteen years and costs £2 a day to feed that is £11,000 in pedigree chum and dog biscuits alone. That doesn’t include vet’s fees and kennelling charges. I’ll try and put that into some kind of perspective, at an average of £40 for a return flight to Europe that is two hundred and seventy-five Ryanair flights to interesting places.
Now, as you have no doubt gathered, I really don’t like dogs and this isn’t completely irrational because they really don’t like me either. My dislike for them started as a boy when I was taken one day for a walk by my grandad and on a piece of waste land opposite my parent’s house in Leicester an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest with its dirty paws and dribbled in my face with its putrid breath. The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash you see and it was looking for a young child to kill and devour. I was absolutely terrified. Lucky for me that grandad was able to shoo it off and chase it away or else I was sure to have been a 1958, child chewed to death by a dog, statistic.
The next detestable canine that I remember loathing was my friend David Newman’s Boxer because although, admittedly, it was almost certainly soft and harmless, it always did that other thing that I hate most about dogs (after biting me of course) and sniffed my groin and left a smudge of dribble on my trousers, which until it dried made it look as if I had a nasty little bathroom accident. Why do dog owners let their animals do that? It’s just not nice, but they always assume that because they like the slobbering thing themselves that everyone else will too. I really do hate that groin snuffling business more than anything else because I am actually quite picky about who or what sniffs my genitals and I am never very comfortable about the close proximity of a set of canine jaws so close to a part of my anatomy that I am just as fond of as the Queen is of the Crown Jewels.
As soon as people with dogs realise that I have an unnatural and unexplainable fear of them then they seem to take sadistic delight in subjecting me to the terror of their company. If the people responsible are reading this they will know exactly who they are!
Once out with my mother, when I was about nine or ten, she stopped to chat to a neighbour, Mrs Gamble, who was the local Freeman’s mail order catalogue agent, and who just happened to be walking her mangy black mongrel dog called Blackie (people who have dogs rarely give them imaginative names) past the house where we lived. I kept a safe distance from the flea bitten thing but the woman assured me that it was perfectly harmless and that it wouldn’t hurt me so in a moment of total rashness I extended a hand of friendship to pat the thing kindly on the head and thirty minutes later I was sitting in St Cross casualty department waiting for a handful of stitches in a hand scarred for life and a painful anti-tetanus injection for good measure. And for those people who say that a dog won’t attack without warning, you are wrong! Since that day I have never again been taken in by an owner’s reassurance that a dog ‘is only trying to be friendly’, because I know that given half a chance it will sink its teeth into me and rip my flesh to shreds.
I have had even worse experiences than these. Once on a beach on the island of Thassos in Greece there was a dog that I sensed was paying more attention to me that I was comfortable with and sure enough it started to chase me and because my mobility was impaired by carrying sun-beds and other beach essentials it was soon too close for comfort and barking and snarling like a rabid beast. I’ve always had an irrational fear of rabies and what I’ve been led to believe can only be prevented following a bite with an excruciatingly painful series of injections.
If you are unlucky enough to get rabies then treatment isn’t very pleasant at all and involves one immediate dose of vaccine and five more over a twenty-eight day period. Half of the vaccine is injected in the region of the bite with a great big needle so that’s obviously not great news if you have been bitten in the arse! Even this is better than it used to be however because in the past it was all injected into nerve city central in the solar plexus with a large needle inserted through the abdominal wall, which goes a long way towards explaining my fear!
Back to the dog on the beach, I kicked some sand in its face but that only aggravated it and by now I was beginning to attract a lot of attention from the people on the beach but none of them made a move to help. I called for assistance (actually I think I’d lost all control by this stage and literally shrieked for help) and embarrassed by the scene I was making my family disowned me and moved away a discreet distance of about five hundred metres. Finally I fought it off with the sharp end of a beach umbrella and it moved on to a family of German sunbathers who simply gave it a welcome pat on the head and it was then to my horror I realised that it was no more than a harmless playful puppy. It took some time to live that down I can tell you! I still not keen on dogs though.