The world likes to crudely label people as dog lovers *or* cat lovers. However I happen to love both. I already have two cats with seven legs between them (leg number eight took on a fast moving vehicle and lost). But just recently I've been wondering whether it's time to take the plunge and get a lovable mutt.
First of all I should point out that the Irish wolfhound in the picture is just the fantasy dog. They're beautiful animals but they're basically the size of a pony and the cats would make a tasty mid-morning snack for a typical wolfhound. Also, they are apparently nicknamed "the heartbreak hound" which has nothing to do with Elvis songs and everything to do with their short-ish lifespan (7-9 years).
But even a small dog seems to bring awesome responsibilities. Cats are independent - the perfect singleton's pet. They spend their days sleeping, eating, sleeping, grooming, sleeping, getting stuck on the roof etc etc. They can be left overnight without wrecking the place. Sometimes they seem almost sorry to see you come home, just as they've got used to that comfy bit on the sofa...
A dog on the other hand is demanding. It craves attention! It needs walked and let out in the garden to ... 'do its business'. It might well develop a penchant for chasing small furry animals e.g. three-legged cats. Kennels fill up fast in peak holiday season. You get the jist.
So why is it that in spite of this I am desperate to get a dog? Is it a married thing? I don't think so. I had a dog once when I was single, for three whole days - on an agreed trial basis I should add! A guy I worked with was trying to re-home a lovely dog which had unfortunately grown from a cute puppy into a full-size animal, much to its owner's displeasure. Said owner then pretty much kept the dog locked up for six months before eventually conceding defeat.
This meant that the (totally untrained) dog went almost crazy with excitement every time she saw a human being. She enjoyed mad, lunging walks, dragging me in her wake. She scrabbled out of my supposedly escape-proof garden so she could play with / eat / terrorise the dog / children next door.
I realised with a sinking heart that this dog didn't just need a single mum and a suburban garden. She needed a large, boisterous family, preferably with teenage boys who could run the legs off her. She needed a dog whisperer who could teach her to walk on a lead, not trail her hapless owner along the edge of the harbour. With a mixture of sadness and relief I gave her back to the re-homer, who happily found her a farm to live on.
But years have passed since then and now I think it's time. I'm having to work on the Murph (who isn't a natural pet man) and a wolfhound is out of the question. But I'm pretty sure I'm ready to handle a Jack Russell...