In the latest ‘Stare of the Dog’ the only place we are being taken is for a ride by the hound himself. Not in the literal sense of course but metaphorically speaking he’s been laughing at us since we picked him up last year. For as many readers will agree, the arrival of a new pet prompts some pretty tough ground rules and one by one, these are almost guaranteed to fade away and vanish like X factor finalists. They did in our house at any rate. On this sore point, my in-laws have a wonderful tea towel displaying ten such ‘house rules for dog owners’ and every time I visit I am reminded just how far we have fallen from the golden standard.
An obvious house decree just waiting to be broken would be the ban on dogs upstairs. Predictably, we jumped on this bandwagon with gusto and at one point I was even dispatched to Argos for a stair gate. Yet, as I write this post 12 months later in the upstairs office, Dudley is flat out behind me exhaling theatrically – like he’s had a tough day – and no doubt drooling on the new carpet like a teething toddler. As for the effort and toil erecting the stair gate? It now lies open and unused, more defunct than a monarch airlines gift voucher.
Continuing a theme, beds in general were supposed to be forbidden territory for the boy wonder yet this house regulation was compromised from the outset. To be honest, he never sleeps with us and we do cover the duvet with a blanket so his Saturday morning visits have become an easily tolerated mood lifter or at least until he farts. Less welcome though are his frequent raids on the laundry basket and much less so the time he crapped on the floor by the wardrobe. To his credit, he was still a pup and we’d not yet put carpets down but the sight of a medium sized dog bent double with tail cocked in the prone position is enough to put anyone off their cup of tea and shortbread.
I feel obliged to talk toilets next and the use of them for drinking out of by dogs. It has never really been a big rule of mine – whilst not being something I encourage either I must add. I mean, this is one of Dudley’s idiosyncrasies I rather approve of. With the earth’s resources in short supply, his multi-use approach to household appliances is a real planet saver in my book. The trouble comes when guests catch him doing it and worse still when he retracts his head from the pan and showers the surrounding area with a mildly acidic backwash. This fate befell my brother-in-law recently who was within the danger zone and got a washing down.
Downstairs a dog owner always has to be more flexible in their approach to house rules but even here we’ve let ourselves down I fear. For years we’ve watched goggle box and recoiled at the sight of the family from Manchester sharing two sofas with ‘Dave’ the Rottweiler and at least two other slavering behemoths yet we’ve now reached that point ourselves.
As with the bed, there are caveats. For starters, Dudley’s an infrequent visitor to the couch and when he does force his way up, he never stays long but all the same our modest piece of DFS luxury is now sullied forever. If he approached our sofa seeking affection when he clambers up nonchalantly I wouldn’t mind so much but more often than not he has his back turned like he can’t stand the sight of us.
Last up on this list of let downs is the dishwasher. Like the toilet, I am pretty relaxed about this one but the speed with which he descends on it at the end of a meal is nothing short of astonishing.
Before even getting to my feet and the minute the cutlery rattles back onto each plate he’s up and away to the kitchen, jockeying for the best position and then swooping like a gull at a landfill site the moment the door opens. As a pup, the sight of him actually climbing in was amusing enough but now he weighs half as much as me the joke is wearing thin. Not only that but the plates are attacked with such ferocity some nights that I have to fight him off before loading. I think I’ll send him for ‘Assistance Dog’ training. That’ll teach the brute.
By the way, in the half chance that anyone bothering to read this should ever end up a guest of ours, I can vouch for the cleanliness of the spare room as it is still ‘out of hounds.’ Ish……