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Teddy’s Tales: Boning-Up on dog books

dog books

There seem to be two responses when you tell people you are getting a puppy:
1. Puppy envy: “The kids will love it! When can we visit?”
2. Puppy downer: “I never thought of you as a dog person. Do you want to be that tied down?”
Who knew that puppies were so contentious? I’ve had listings of low-points that verge on the malicious. Others ask me, maternally moist-eyed, if this will be my ‘third child’. (Let me be clear: I have never craved three children, and a dog is a dog.) Then there is the happy relief of friends who would quite like a pup to pet but prefer to hand it back before the need for a poo bag arises.
Honestly? It’s the scaremongers who have got to me.
Peeing, pooing, chewing, nipping, barking, whining: in order to learn to love (or at least accept) the dogginess of a dog, I am laying the groundwork and calling in a dog trainer. Too much, you think? Not if you’d read the training books I have ploughed through in the past three months. I’ve amassed a tidy stack (see above) on my bedside table. In the book shops there seem to be as many dog books as there are baby books, and they are equally as divisive.
While the family is agreed that we want a dog, I should probably say right now that I don’t like being licked by dogs, my sons get nervous around jumpy dogs, and poo bags? Well, they are going to be a learning curve for us all.
A mother at the school had success with The Dog-Mad Lady of Hampstead Heath. Not her bona fide moniker, but apparently an accurate description. On the telephone she comes over a bit Barbara Woodhouse. (Is this a good thing? Dog training has followed the way of child-rearing – these days it’s a whole lot more touchy-feely than Woodhouse and choke chains).
She barks questions down the telephone: Garden? Crate-training? Innoculations? Worming History? Vet? She asks me the name we have chosen – and approves it. (Would we have had to change it if she had not?)
She brushes aside some of the more prescriptive advice I’ve read with a ‘stuff and nonsense’ approach that I am willing to run with: maybe a dog calls for that Barbours and Agas approach. We’ll see.

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