Barking Mad

I went to our local bar Further North for a glass of wine – and found myself sharing a table with a giant dog.

This was no ordinary Fido; it was a gargantuan, slavering brute of a thing that took up a whole space of its own.

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When it opened its mouth to yawn, its jaw was so big, I was nearly swallowed whole.

Perhaps its presence wouldn’t have been quite so odd if it wasn’t a: Friday night and b: the bar wasn’t the size of a shoebox.

My friend Sally-Ann thought this was the most preposterous thing she had ever witnessed.

‘What is that dog even doing here?’ she hissed, sipping on her glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

‘I think it’s actually having a pint!’ I whispered back.

‘He’s only brought it here because it says ‘Dogs Welcome’ on the door,’ mused Sally-Ann.

‘I’m sure my pet hamster would be welcome here too but I’m not going to go home and get him – just because I can!’

The next week, we went for another drink at Further North. This time there were two mutts in residence – a Labrador reclining by the door and another dog of indeterminable breed lying flat-out in the middle of the floor.

The bar only holds about 25 people in total – soon we could be overrun by hounds!

I’m generally quite frightened of dogs, especially if they jump up, lick or bark loudly. I once got bowled over by a neighbour’s dog, aged 3 – and I’ve never quite recovered. My friend’s dog recently licked my bare leg and I had an overwhelming urge to dash home and have a shower.

I still like the idea of having a companion to take for walk. But if I was to ever acquaint myself with a four-legged friend, it would basically have to be lazy, mute, with limited salivation. And if it could refrain from moulting all over my Laura Ashley sofa, that would be a bonus.

The husband would love a dog, after the death of his childhood pooch: Trixie. 20 years on, he can’t talk about Trixie without his eyes misting over. He loved that dog.

My mum, on the other hand, believes that getting a dog is a bad idea because you’ll just be too upset when they die. This is quite a strange theory. But then she has got some peculiar ideas.

But what dog should one get? My friend has a Wire-Haired Fox Terrier and it resembles a giant teddy bear. When you’re having a conversation, it cocks its head to the side as if listening carefully. It also has a fairly aloof personality, which I admire.

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In my eyes, the Wire-Haired Fox Terrier is only usurped by three other breeds: the Bearded Collie; the Old English Sheep Dog and the Cockapoo. Here’s a selection that I’ve encountered recently – including a sad-looking St Bernard.

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The Husband has ruled out all of the above for a variety of reasons; too hairy; too lively; too slobbery; not MANLY enough. He also pointed out the problem with having a dog is that dogs attract other dogs, many of which I’m frightened of.

On reflection, I think we’d have to plump for the humble – but no less loveable – Golden Retriever.

My friend Abi has recently acquired a dog; a Shar-Pei. It’s lovely but very boisterous. It jumps up a lot and licks me voraciously. I’m terrified.

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When I go round to her house, she shouts through the letter box, ‘I’m going to open the door now. The dog’s in training – can you just ignore her.’

‘Don’t worry – I was planning to!’ I cry, before the door swings open, a blur of brown fur and pink tongue rushes to greet me, and I pin myself up against the wall – like a plank – until the commotion is over.

Here is a picture of me attempting to take it for a walk, although I suspect the reverse is true.

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One bonus of having a dog – particularly if you’re single – is that it attracts a lot of attention. Last summer, Abi found herself fending off advances from fellow dog walkers in the park.

We tried to coin a phrase for the newly-discovered phenomenon of dog flirtation but couldn’t. Smokers have ‘smirting’ – but ‘dirting’ and ‘flogging’ just sounded plain seedy.

Abi phoned me the other night.

‘Fancy a drink at Further North?’ she said. ‘I’ve just found out you can take dogs there!’

I had visions of the dog careering around the tiny bar, knocking over wine glasses, and using my leg like a giant lollipop.

‘Absolutely not,’ I said.

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