A Dog’s Life
‘Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story’
Scott Fitzgerald from The Crack-Up
The modern dog has one hell of a good life. With the proviso that the dog lives in a pet orientated country like Australia and the owner treats them as a member of the family.
Australia apparently has one of the highest rates of pet ownership. And dogs are the number one pet. It’s been noted recently that there are more dogs in Australia than children under 15.
When I was a kid, dogs lived a very different life. For starters, the suburb I grew up in was an industrial suburb with open paddocks and unused land. And dogs were free range.
Dogs roamed around the streets unsupervised and went home when they felt like it. They had secret lives we didn’t know about. Our Corgi, Ayesha, accompanied us everywhere because we were free range children. On summer evenings when we were sent to bed early because we had visitors, it was our duty to escape. By climbing out the bedroom window.
I remember nearly breaking my neck as I lowered Ayesha down from a high window ledge. But being a smart dog she knew not to bark or whimper. Especially when we had to creep under the kitchen window. Moving quickly all fours, we could hear the adults conversing as they sucked down copious quantities of red wine. We were well aware that they were busy getting crapulous and we wouldn’t be missed.
Once we were out the gate, the streets were ours. The standout summer night was when a neighbour, Pearl, chased an unknown man down our street and stabbed him with a huge kitchen knife. He survived.
The police came and the matter was treated as a misunderstanding resulting in an accident. Even Ayesha knew that was adult shite. But no charges were pressed and Pearl wasn’t arrested. I adored Pearl, she was raising my good friend Michelle single-handedly. So I was really pleased she didn’t get thrown in the slammer.
Nobody bothered to explain to me what drove such a petite, charming, stylish young woman to publicly wield a murder weapon in the street. But ours was a neighbourhood where domestic and street violence occurred on a regular basis. Even in my home.
Getting back to the modern dog. You only have to scroll through Instagram to see what today’s dogs have to put up with. Some are gifted Tiffany blue leather dog collars, a steal at $AU500.00 for the large dog. Or a large sterling silver Tiffany dog bowl to eat their wretched dried food out of. Yours for mere $AU4,400.
As Tiffany’s smoothly advises prospective buyers – Add a whimsical touch to your home with this bowl that any dog will love.
Dogs who aren’t cashed up have to make do with scratchy, synthetic fancy dress costumes from a megastore. Or plastic squeaky toys. Perhaps such dogs feel diminished? No doubt there’s fun to be had in waking up one’s owner, by making a toy bone squeal at five in the morning. As does a neighbour’s wicked dog.
Apparently the most popular canines are small dogs with faces that resemble infants. Pugs and other flat nosed breeds are highly prized. And these more expensive breeds tend to be dogs that are given birthday parties.
No expense is spared and the doggy party guests arrive all dressed up. Games are ignored, gifts are peed on and they dine on dog treats that have been created to resemble human food. But as can be seen online, the dog’s owners are delighted by their ‘fur babies’ antics.
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether you should feed your dog dry food. Fortunately there’s been a rise in dissident researchers, who firmly believe that fresh dog food or even frozen fresh dog food is better for dogs health.
I think it must be extremely depressing to be faced everyday with a dish of dried food. Particularly if it’s mostly kibble.
Even a large Tiffany sterling silver dog bowl – comparable in price to an short island holiday – couldn’t compensate for that.
Photo: the author with Ayesha – a Corgi with oversized ears, big personality and great intelligence. Ayesha had a male friend, a large, scruffy terrier called Sandy. They were inseparable. He visited Ayesha most days between nine and five. And was always made welcome.