At the End of the Day

Button eyes and cute incomprehension can go a long way

Walking round our house at the moment is like a cross between River Safari and a reclamation yard. This is all down to maturing Norfolk  puppy Coco, whose desire to play with everything and pee everywhere has created our New Look. I’m thinking of getting the Sunday Times Home supplement in to record the result as a sign of major social change: the middle classes are keeping chickens in the garden…but at the same time, we bourgeois doggie folks are in the vanguard of reaction to interior minimalism. A vanguard of reaction may seem to you something of an oxymoron, but when one has witnessed thirty years of progressive madness syndrome, it becomes ever easier to argue that oxymorons are exactly what our civilisation needs.

We will never again acquire a puppy in winter. Winter is for closed doors, but closed doors produce interior wee-pools. As the puppy gets bigger, the pools turn into the sort of lakes for which the EU is infamous. To encourage the lakes to migrate into the garden, one needs permanently open doors. But as long as winter endures, this is a battle between hypothermia and soggy kitchen roll as to which might be the lesser of two evils. The First World War battle of the Somme was, I imagine, very similar.

Very few things do better reclamation than a terrier puppy, if only because everything left lying around is seen as something to be reclaimed in pursuit of a new purpose. During any average day, Coco will come across – and drag away for disciplinary action – shoes, glasses, coal, kindling, TV listings, socks, toys, cardboard, and any other objects deemed likely to give good chewing. What she is absolutely crap at is tidying any of it away. What she is even crapper at is discerning the intentionally supplied toy from that heat patch designed to alleviate Dad’s back pain. While I was leaning forward to type on the sofa last night, Coco went to investigate the builder’s cleavage thus created, and liberated my Deep Heat patch. By the time I realised that the patch had gone missing, the puppy was engaged in thrashing it to within an inch of its life against our carefully distressed oak living room doors.

Coco’s abiding obsession involves keeping her dentistry in good order. This is a good thing, in that our oldest Norfolk Foxie’s teeth are the result of her greed in sucking all food directly into her stomach –  a process during which she perceived teeth to be something in the way. The downside is that when Coco’s owner is lying on his back on the floor (with legs on the sofa to repair repetitive blogging injury) she views my head, ears and fingers as more raw material for varietal chewing.

The most engaging action she performs is the four legs off the ground bouncing and growling thing. She does this better than any electronic cuddly toy I’ve yet encountered – and with such determined vigour that middle-terrier Tiggy is clearly impressed to the point of being terrified. Tiggy began by seeing Coco as a toy whose squeak needed to be extinguished, but she has learned otherwise over the last three months. I doubt very much if even Syrian water-cannon weapons could extinguish this latest addition to our menagerie.

When we return to France in two months time, the problem will rapidly cure itself: for there, little bottoms can be gently encouraged outside by human feet to dispose of waste materials via open doors to the outside…..there to chew upon real rodents and rabbits, rather than crucially important investment and probate documents.

Ever since I married Jan eighteen years ago, I have been an incurable dog-watcher. I still stick to my theory that wolves are the stupid buggers who couldn’t grasp how easily animals can manipulate humans into providing all their needs – in return for a bit of obedience and ritual rat-slaying. Many years ago, the Kennomeat dogfood brand ran an advertising campaign casting dogs as owners, and vice versa. In one memorable commercial, a canine ‘Human Owner’ observes, “Y’know, sometimes I think he understands everything I say”. I think that got the real relationship about right.

17 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Aahh .. the joys of being allowed to share premises with dogs. I’ve just read some of your post to the Memsahib as we share a small tissue-restorative and she cast a stern but fond eye toward the Kelpie/Border Collie who seems to have things pretty well ordered here. He is lying inert on the once pristine deep pile carpet, pleasantly empty after his evening constitutional, and I decide to draw a discreet veil over the fact that he has broken wind once more. Say what you like about my Old Chum – and many do – he hasn’t an ounce of restraint when it comes to maintaining an even metabolic equilibrium … And now I see that even the cat has stalked off in disgust.


  2. I have enjoyed the company of two dogs in my lifetime, both border collies who needed long walks much more than I did. Now I have a West Cheshire Otter Hound. It looks like a cat, sleeps like a cat, acts in every way like a cat, and may even be one….perish the thought. Lovely dog though!


  3. I can sympathise, having acquired a new black lab puppy this week. God these young uns have sharp teeth.

    Thank you John for your excellent blog. Entertaining and enlightening in equal measure


  4. I own a cute cat but no dog. However, this post do remind me Israel’s “British dogs” story.

    In 2010, when then foreign secretary David Miliband announced that British government has decided to expel an “un-named Israeli diplomat” in response to its passports being used in the Dubai assassination of one of Hamas’ leading freedom-fighters, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – two members of Israeli Knesset, Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari, called David Miliband and the entire British nation as “dogs” and “anti-Semite”.
    “I think British are behaving hypocritically and I don’t want to offend dogs on this issue, since some dogs are utterly loyal,” Aryeh Eldad of Israel National Union (MK).
    “The British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us, but rather to an anti-Semitic system,” Michael Ben-Ari, MK…..


  5. We have a bit of dog trouble at the moment. Our Irish mongrel who is getting on a bit, & fat due to being spoilt by my lady love, is as I write this, howling in the backyard. Up above us on the hillside lives a young Sheltie who is advertising the fact that she is available for what passes as doggie romance. I feel very sorry for him as he hasn’t got the foggiest about the enchantment he is under, he’s not eating or sleeping & what used to be his morning stroll has now turned into a gallop. I get the impression he is acting like a teenager in love. I remember my own hormone driven days where one organ took control of the usual one used for decision making, & in my case, it was always the wrong decision. I had better get him in & go to bed, because he will probably have me up at 7ish again with another howling alarm call.


  6. [OT] Today’s Doom & Gloom:

    This comment from the ex-MPC member Andrew Sentance on this morning’s DT Debt Crises Live page:

    He [Andrew Sentance] says the UK should get used to weak growth and a bumpy recovery – he told the Institute of Economic Affairs’ annual conference that “the current phase of disappointing growth and volatility” is “the new normal”.

    – Brent Oil reached $124 pb this morning…it’s not waiting for the global economy to show signs of recovery…

    – Lloyds announce a loss, following RBS loss announced yesterday.

    Lloyds takeover of HBS has been described as “disastrous”.
    Commenters now say it will be up to 10 years before the taxpayer gets its money back from RBS. At the time of virtual nationalisation, Brown said it’d be 3-5 years.

    Was it a mistake to have poured taxpayers money into Lloyds & RBS?


  7. We know with some certainty that HBOS would have fallen over and that would have triggered the DPS. But I don’t think the consequences of that were the main considerations in Brown’s tiny mind at the time. He was in the run up to a general election and desperate to get an electoral mandate from the people. The sight of long queues outside HBOS branches would have sunk him. It would also have exposed his fundamentally flawed economic policies…the whole Brown ethos would have been laid bare. For him, it was much better to pour taxpayers money into Lloyds, bully them into taking over HBOS and blame the whole fiasco on America. We are now paying the fallout from that.


  8. Coco Chanel was famous for inventing the “little black number”. Not wishing to lower the tone of your august organ, I will take this observation no further..


  9. John
    My memory of the ad was that the dog was training his owner (who was a small, wimpish man with a leash on) and was saying to his doggie friend “Sometimes, I think he understands every word I say” and said in a very plum accent.

    I house trained Rufus – our Border Terrier – in ten days but at the expense of sleep dperivation as I get up to take him outside every two hours during the night (stretching to every 3 hours, 4 hours etc) and regularly during the day. This was October and he soon got the message and developed a very dutiful bladder!

    Good luck!


  10. Pingback: Re-stocking The Flock | Keeping Chickens

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