You could argue that I need to get out more but I’m really going to miss puppy pre-school at my local vet’s. As good as therapy, it’s hugely reassuring being able to share the highs and lows of puppy pranks, playtime and puddle-making with other parents and to seek tips from veterinary specialists. But more than that, it’s been highly amusing observing how the pups interact socially. In an upstairs room at the practice, the pre-school sessions resemble a canine cocktail party complete with canapés – no spring rolls, salmon blinis or arancini balls here, just plenty of chicken, tasty biscuits and dried kangaroo strips. OK, so the dogs sniff each other out rather than talk about what they do for a living but they do have characteristics in common with us humans.
There’s Goodie-Two Shoes Toffee,for example, a petite, caramel-coloured Cavoodle who, at just ten weeks, had mastered an impressive number of commands – sit, stay, drop etc – and was flirting with the boys. In the human world, I reckon she would be a ladder-climbing PR strategist, work out a lot, wear expensive fashion labels and have her teeth whitened. Feisty, determined and able to ‘work the room,’ she might turn out to be a Devil wears Prada Primadonna. Then there’s Bella, a bouncy, full-of-beans Groodle. Blessed with curly black hair and a big heart, she’d be a fabulous hostess; plump, big-boobed, a bon viveur, great cook and the life and soul of any party. She’d probably ‘over-egg’ the pudding and drink one too many glasses of red wine here and there, but everyone would love her.
Rambo (to my English ear, I first thought his name was Rainbow), is a cute black-coated miniature schnauzer and a bit wary of other dogs. He protects himself by barking to keep them away. In real life he might be an IT type dressed in black jeans and a black polo top with a computer bag slung across his body. A bit afraid of intimacy he hides behind his beard and keeps himself to himself. Actually, it’s his beard that’s the problem and is keeping the opposite sex at bay. It’s unkempt and straggly and he gets food and drink caught in it, making it a total passion-killer. A lovable loner, you have to persevere if you want to get to know him.
Like any working dog worth his salt, Bertie, my spaniel, has a highly developed sense of smell and cases the joint for every scrap. He’s a born hunter and opportunist and his human equivalent would always be on the lookout for new opportunities and markets. A charming entrepreneur with a twinkle in his eye, Bertie is the sort that can get away with anything. But, whoops, perhaps not! What’s that on the floor? Amid all my anthropomorphising, Bertie’s canine alter ego drops a brown deposit on the floor. As if to remind me that he’s a dog, fair and square. All right, Bertie. Point taken. But the question still remains. What WILL I do on a Tuesday night now you’ve graduated from puppy pre-school?