I don’t have any pets.
We investigated keeping rats so that our son could gradually grow bored of them. After all, that’s what pets are for, right?
Attentive parents buy something cute in the hope their darling Jimmy will stop being so sodding self-centred and learn a valuable lesson in responsibility. After a few weeks the cute thing is less cute, largely because it’s grown so anxious at being mauled by tiny hands every day its fur’s falling out. Then the novelty wears off and the parents find themselves filling feeders and shovelling out pellets of poo until the poor creature finally grows weary of living in the animal version of solitary confinement and dies.
We were put off rats by their habit of marking their territory and making nests out of anything soft and downy. As our pre-teen is fast turning into a teen, that kind of behaviour is becoming pretty common round here anyway.
We considered Madagascan hissing cockroaches after my son fell in love with them at a ‘hands on’ animal event run by our local zoo. Yes, I know many of you will recoil in horror at that very thought, but they look like walking tortoiseshell hairslides to me, so I bear no grudge.
If we were ever to have a large pet, I suspect it would be a dog.
I read in a history article once that modern, Western folk cannot underestimate how much more physically brave our ancestors were than ourselves and this claim is borne out by the very existence of the domesticated canine.
Their wild cousins are often cast as the baddies in fairy tales – they plot against pigs (especially those into home improvements) and eat grandmas, for heaven sake. In recent years the UK has seen the reintroduction of beavers and wild boar, but the mooted reintroduction of the wolf to parts of Scotland has prompted outrage from many. And if you own livestock – or even cats – you can understand why.
Who was the brave fool who first wanted one as a best mate? Whoever it was, you can bet he soon earned the nickname Stumpy, Hopalong, Scarface – if he was still alive to earn a new name.
But it’s thanks to such nutters I am able today to bring you the word
as my Wednesday Word Tangle word of the day.
The Online Etymology Dictionary reckons it comes from the Old English docga, forcing out the more commonly used hund, and spreading into other European languages. But it’s a testament to humanity’s close relationship with the animal, that they crop up so often in expressions.
Bark is worst than his bite
Barking up the wrong tree
Bite the hand that feeds
Call off the dogs
Dog eat dog
Every dog has its day
Fight like cat and dog
Hair of the dog
You’ll find a ton more here.
One of my personal favourite doggy expressions is
I also enjoy the less savoury pup’s nuts for its assonance, it being a lesser known spin on dog’s bollocks meaning something excellent.
Why are canine testicles thought of as particulaly amazing in Britain? Your guess really is as good as mine. It was also a printers’ term for a colon followed by a dash
I’m sure you can work out why.
So next time you see a Chihuahua or a Pomeranian or a Pekingese, stop and wonder. Firstly at how such a ridiculous animal could possibly be related to the man eaters of legend. And secondly how indebted the English language is to them.
And for all you entomophobics out there – enjoy.
Thanks to Kat as always for inventing W4W.