by David Jones
A "pet" dog which took a lump out of a family friend’s hand the other day reminded me why I’m not a great lover of man’s best friend. That goes for cats, too.
Considering there are roughly about 10 million cats and about the same number of dogs in the UK, it’s clear that a great many people do not share my views.
Cats, well, they can never really be “pets” in the true sense as they do their own thing most of the time, not to mention bringing in the occasional dismembered mouse or sparrow.
Maybe I’ve got a hang-up from my childhood, when my parents had a cat. I can still recall the unruly feline’s habit of sharpening its claws on the arm of our sofa, or jumping up on my back and then sliding down with its claws extended. If there had been such a thing as an Asbo for cats, my parents’ maniacal moggie would have fully deserved one.
Dogs, well, it’s much easier to make a case for them as pets. And, of course, taking a dog for a walk would force me into some much needed exercise.
On the other hand, the prospect of carrying a plastic bag to scoop up the pooch’s mess makes me feel quite queasy. Then there’s the problem of what to do with Rover when you go on holiday. This is all just too much hassle for me. I prefer to live in a pet-free environment.
My ramblings about pets bring me neatly on to the main point I want to make: don’t forget that domesticated animals, and dogs in particular, can still be dangerous, however “cute” they may appear.
I have even been bitten by my kids’ pets, a hamster and a rabbit, though not at the same time. Admittedly, though, not many people have been savaged by a goldfish.
Our friend was attacked by a dog as we were leaving a pub after a lunchtime drink. The terrier-type canine yelped extremely loudly, then jumped up and bit her finger. All she had done was to bend down slightly to take a closer look at it.
The animal’s owner immediately retorted: “Well, you shouldn’t have bent down.” An absurd comment, because that meant that any passing stranger stopping to look at the “cute” dog was in danger of being attacked. A child could have ended up minus a nose.
The moral of this story is that no dog can ever be fully trusted. No matter how cute and cuddly it might appear, there’s always a danger that their base animal instincts will surface when you least expect it.
“Never put your face close to a dog, even if it’s your own. They are unpredictable.” That was the message drummed into me when I was a kid and I still remember it to this day. Fifty years on, that message still holds good. Beware of the dog.
Having said that, I am fully aware that, for millions of people, dogs are much loved pets, a source of both companionship and joy.
By the way, my wife disagrees with almost every word I have written, except for the sentence above this one – and she wants a dog for a pet, now that we have both retired. But I’m going to take a lot of persuading. Happy dog stories, or letters of complaint from dog lovers, can be addressed to me, via the Medway Messenger.