A dog’s life

 

In the Chinese calendar, 2006 is the year of the dog. The New Year is near the end of the month, and I intend to enjoy myself by wolfing down large quantities of chow mein and kung pao prawns.

 

They say a dog is a man’s best friend. Sadly, a man is not always a dog’s best friend. For example, I believe that Cyprus is not a nation of animal lovers. And yet there are so many pets in Cyprus. Every family has one and some have several. And the most popular pets are cats and dogs.

 

There are several key differences between the two. Dogs, for example, respect their owners, they welcome us home by wagging their tails and jumping up and down and licking us and slobbering all over us (try not to think of where else that tongue has been). They fetch things, sit and give you their paw and bark excitedly when you get the leash out (although being furry and having bad breath they are no substitute for human companionship).

 

And of course you can train dogs (primarily to stop pooping all over the house). You cannot train cats. They only sit when they want and they only come when you have something to give them. They will not fetch, but merely look at you as though you need psychiatric help before walking away. People do not train cats, cats train people. They train us to give them free food and reward us by redecorating our furniture and curtains and by occasionally bringing us a dead lizard or a bird. “Here’s one I killed earlier. If you don’t want to eat it, it’ll look great on the table I renovated, next to that sofa I spruced up for you.”

 

Me, I prefer dogs to cats. Dogs are sweet and lovable and on the whole, do what they’re told. And so, I’ve decided that when I have a place of my own that is big enough, I might think of getting a dog. Or an ant farm.

 

The first question any prospective dog owner needs to consider is ”What kind of dog should I buy?”. There are many possible options you can choose:

1.       A small manageable dog because you live in a flat.

2.       A dog that eats anything and loves children.

3.       A dog that doesn’t eat children.

4.       A basenji, because you want a dog that doesn’t bark, howl, smell or shed. Or a goldfish.

 

Once you buy your dog, you have to pick a name for him or her. We bought a beautiful collie, when I was seven or eight, who I later began feeling sorry for (wearing a fur coat in the Cyprus summer can’t be fun) and we gave her a name we kids thought was pure genius- Lassie. Original, right?

               

Next you have to figure out what to feed your dog. Most dogs eat anything. Our dog ate grapes and spat out the pips and she went crazy whenever she heard me unwrap one of those insipid slices of processed cheese. She liked pasta and loved chicken. So what should you feed your dog? Here are some ideas:

1.       Pedigree Chum, dog biscuits and those nasty smelly dried foods.

2.       All your leftovers

3.       The neighbour’s cat

 

You also need to exercise your dog. Most male pups get plenty of exercise going to work on visitors’ legs and it may be a good way to get rid of unwanted guests, but I’d suggest taking your dog for a walk. Failing that, put him on a treadmill and switch it on ‘walk’.

 

I’m joking of course. In any case, your dog will need to go to the bathroom. And so you must arm yourself with a pooper scooper (that’s what you’re supposed to do, anyway) and walk several miles until your dog gets the urge, until he finds a lamppost that smells good enough to use, then walk several miles more until he gets the urge for number two, getting out your little bag and scooper and walking several miles back home, bag in hand, hoping you don’t meet anybody you know along the way.  Meanwhile, I’m sure the dog is thinking “Who’s the master now, huh?” 

 

Basically, what I am saying is that with a dog come many responsibilities. After all, don’t they say that ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’? I totally agree with this. This is why I’ve decided to go for the ant farm.

 

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