Paul Burke

The strange psychology of dog owners

No, you’re not a ‘dog mum’

  • From Spectator Life
(iStock)

I’m writing this in a coffee shop. I write most things in coffee shops but I’ve never been to this one before. As I paid for my latte, I noticed the sign (below). Never mind Brexit or Palestine, I can’t think of an issue that will divide the nation like this will. People will immediately take sides and, like Brexit or Palestine, I think we all know which side will be the more voluble. And it won’t be the side who sigh with relief and think, ‘at last!’

The British are famously a nation of dog lovers but has that love has gone a little too far? The Pope certainly thinks so. Last year, he incurred the unholy wrath of dog owners by declaring that ‘dogs now sometimes take the place of children’. As a spectacularly lapsed Catholic, it was very odd to find myself nodding in agreement with His Holiness.

The offending sign (Paul Burke)

I’ve never owned a dog nor understood why anyone would want to. My wife and I frequently look after her friend’s labradoodle – a perfectly delightful dog – yet this has left me more bewildered by dog lovers.

Some may be trying to fill a void in their lives

Not about the obvious downsides like the constraints on your freedom or the fleas and faeces; instead, I’m more baffled by the things people claim to love about dog ownership.

Let’s start with ‘They’re such good company’. Really? Wouldn’t you prefer the company of your own species? Someone with whom you can talk, rather than someone at whom you can talk? Or is the mute obedience the thing you really like? That ‘unconditional love and loyalty’ which does sound like the sort of devotion that only a narcissist or a dictator would demand.

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