This week’s ‘Stare of the Dog’ exposes the green-eyed monster of jealousy I never knew lurked within me, for I’ve finally snapped under the voluminous weight of canine compliments shoveled liberally in Dudley’s direction. Given that my hygienically challenged house guest appears to attract more cooing than a pigeon loft and is far too modest to comment himself (as you can see below), it falls to me to showcase his finer physical qualities and take a peek at their origins.
For a start, and like many a model, he has his Mum and Dad to thank for most of them. The charming and stereotypical Labrador face, a requisite number of limbs and the physical structure of a show dog are all parental gifts worth much more than a new bike or the latest gaming console – at least to him anyway. And whilst my wife and I often refer to ourselves as his parents, any genuine attempt by us to take credit for these attributes would be sufficiently troubling to leave us facing a custodial sentence in all but the most liberal of countries. Luckily, young Dud’s real folks are a good deal hairier than us pair in appearance and better suited in every way to passing on the building blocks required for life as a Labrador.
So, genetics are the driver behind most of young Dud’s good looks and charm. And just like every other well healed hound on the planet with a pedigree, he’s more inbred than a sandwich filling, owns fewer pairs of ‘fresh genes’ than a first year university student and probably has an ancestral tree that makes a Poplar look broad limbed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking him for it. In fact, quite the opposite. He’s emerged from the shallowest of genetic pools with a swagger about the hip and a face to launch a thousand new dog food brands so what’s not to like? In fact, if all it would have taken for me to get the ‘Brad Pitt’ look was for great uncle Maurice to get a little amorous with his sister Doris, I’d consider it a price worth paying. All I’m saying is that Dudley can take very little of the credit for the accolades he wins and if he can’t, no matter how tenuous it might seem, I intend to.
As the majority of those compliments that swirl around his head like feeding Swallows refer to his coat, this seems like the best place to start. It is indeed a very fine tunic he wears. Glossy in appearance and shaded the kind of chestnut hue that covers opulent leather sofas in classy shop windows. Indeed, I feel most days as though I am striding out and about with a Parker Knoll colour chart in tow. And given all the guff daubed on the front of the sacks of food I buy him about Omega 3 fish oils, I think this is the first piece of credit for which I intend to take for his appearance as everyone knows the benefits that these superfoods offer us all. The fact that ‘Wagg Worker’ manages to keep his coat looking like the interior of a presidential motorcade is a miracle however, given it’s also the cheapest food on the market, but manage it does, and as the provider of this provender, I’m taking the plaudits.
Then there’s the frequent watery immersion his jacket and trousers receive most days when I make the effort to take him to the river for a swim. As I can’t imagine any scenario where a regular combination of walking and swimming is bad for the body or the cleanliness of the coat, I’m taking the credit for that too. Staying with the H2O theme, Dudley also binge drinks water like an underweight boxer, and given how much the doctors tell us it can do for our health, I don’t se why I shouldn’t be chalking that one up on my ledger also. After all, I don’t recall too many times when I’ve caught him standing at the sink filling his bowl up.
Finally, there’s the issue of weight. Everyone knows just how greedy your average Labrador is and Dudley’s no exception. Given that you’d have to go back to the reign of Henry VIII to find the last time anybody ever said anything flattering about a fat bloke with a hairy face, I believe Dudley has me to thank for his trim physique and by extension, his many admirers. Without my parsimonious food rations, he’d look more like a coffee table than a finely honed canine specimen.
So upon reflection, perhaps I do have more reason than first thought to bask in the warm glow of felicitations fired almost daily at Dud, and maybe I ought to start accepting graciously the kind words of total strangers more readily. For it seems that Dudley’s head turning looks are every bit the result of my hard work, that and my wife’s. Having said all that, I’m still ‘just a jealous guy.’