My friend said, ‘Don’t buy a dog from a pet shop.’
I said, ‘OK.’
He said, ‘Good one.’
I said, ‘Actually I wasn’t thinking of buying a dog.’
A few days later I thought I wasn’t thinking of buying
a dog but if I was thinking of buying a dog, where
would I go if I was?’
My friend had gone to see his relatives in Germany
but I was in the queue at the post office when I
heard a conversation behind me. It was two women.
One of them had a dog.
‘I got him at a refuge.’
‘Is he clean?’
I found the address of a dog refuge. It was in the
woods off the motorway. The dogs were in cages.
As I walked past, they came up to the fence and
looked at me. One of them seemed to be laughing
at me. I stopped at another one and looked very
closely at it. Some kind of mongrel. A bit sheepdog.
A bit labrador. It said, ‘There’s not much point in
getting me. I won’t come.’
‘Do you get a choice in the matter?’ I said.
‘Try me,’ it said.
‘No, no,’ I said, ‘I’m really not into forcing anyone to
do anything. I’m not even sure I want a dog.’
‘Really? It’s not our job to help you work out your
hang-ups about dogs, you know,’ it said.
‘Yes. No. That’s right. I wasn’t working out anything.’
It went on looking at me very closely.
‘Are you that poet who does the Waitrose adverts?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘that’s not me.’
‘Out of interest,’ I said, ‘why wouldn’t you come with
me, if I really wanted you to be my dog?’
‘You said it just there,’ it said, ’in here I’m part of
something bigger than me. All you can talk about
is “me and my dog”...”my dog and me”...”what I want,
what I don’t want”.’
‘I could make it bigger than that. When I walk through
the park in the morning, there’s a meet-up place where
dog people all get together with their dogs.’
‘Same old crap,’ it said, ‘“we only meet because the
people want to meet”.’
‘Not good?’ I said.
‘In here, we have a strong sense of being in something
‘You are. You’re in here together,’ I said.
I had a feeling that that wasn’t the right thing to say. The
dog turned round and walked off to the back of the cage.