Our dog's so stupid he picked up a puppy instead of his ball and ran off with it
Don’t get a dog. Yes, you heard me right, nation of animal lovers: DON’T GET A DOG. That’s the only important piece of advice I’ll ever give you, because buying our Airedale was one of the most ill-advised things I’ve ever done.
More ill-advised than any of the shoes I’ve ever worn in the front row at fashion shows and more ridiculous even than having a fourth child.
In fact, when people occasionally ask me for parenting tips (mistakenly believing I know what I’m doing because I have a larger family), I bellow: ‘Don’t get a ruddy dog!’
Barking: Lorraine's dog is even more badly behaved than Marley from the film 'Marley and Me' starring Jennifer Aniston
I was bullied into buying ours six years ago by my animal-mad toddlers and husband. ‘Dogs are intelligent, friendly and great company,’ they chorused. None of this has proven true of our particular dog.
Intelligent Jedward have a higher IQ than he does.
Friendly He’s so annoyingly over-friendly it terrifies people. And great company Well, only if you consider a relative with low standards of personal hygiene, no table manners and excessive flatulence great company.
His name is Duke, but he’s so naughty he thinks it’s ‘Duke No’. Our relationship was briefly mutually adoring when he was a puppy, but now he’s the size of Champion the Wonder Horse and the worst-behaved pet in the world (probably the universe) he’s much more difficult to love and live with.
This week, relations reached an all-time low. I ignored the fact he repeatedly peed on the garden chairs (which obviously then froze in our Arctic weather), overlooked his snaffling of a packet of Polos in the wrapper from the cupboard and was more shocked than annoyed when he devoured an onion, with suitably unpleasant consequences.
There are around 10.5 million dogs kept as pets in the UK, with 31 per cent of households owning one
This is, after all, the nature of dogs. I’m familiar with this because there were always a minimum of four family dogs when I was a child. But when Duke dug up half the garden (again) and I noticed he’d ‘bagged’ his own poo with one of the children’s balloons he’d swallowed I’d had enough. I know we are discouraged from smacking children, but what’s the rule with dogs
Duke’s an Airedale: a breed supposedly so bright the police once used them. If ours is anything to go by, I think they must have used them to find land mines. A canine expert once told us Duke is unruly because we didn’t establish dominance from the word go.
‘He’s the Alpha male in the house,’ he said. But I don’t think that’s the problem at all because we hired a trainer to help us with Duke’s over- exuberant personality early on (I know a rebellious nutcase when I see one).
He refused to deal with him after just two sessions. ‘I may be able to get him to sit… one day,’ he told us, resigned to admitting his first failure while Duke peed up against his leg (in the kitchen).
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He’s always peeing up against inappropriate objects — you can’t take him to the beach because of the deckchairs. The swearing from the poor man sitting eating a sarnie when Duke happened upon him this summer is etched on my children’s psyche.
He’s more hard work than any of the children. He has diabetes and we have to inject him twice a day with insulin and make sure he doesn’t overdose on food that affects his sugar levels.
This is almost impossible because, while he’s so stupid he barks at his own reflection, he’s pretty smart when it comes to rooting out the last pack of Haribo.
I don’t walk him any more after he accidentally picked up a very small dog instead of his ball and ran off with it. We can’t go near water because he dives in recklessly (the Regent’s Park pedalo man has never forgiven us after he had to retrieve Duke from his pond).
I’ve lost count of the campsites we’ve trawled looking for him during our Cornish holidays where he enthusiastically invites himself to other people’s BBQs.
The cats and squirrels in our neighbourhood have checked into the Priory for Duke-related stress issues and we are now known locally as ‘the family with the Airedale’.
The problem is that he thinks he’s a child (his one redeeming characteristic is he’s wonderfully gentle and loving with his ‘siblings’) and I suspect his antics are attention-seeking behaviour.
Mr Candy says I will learn to love him again when I go back to work after maternity leave next month. ‘You’ve spent to much time together: you need a break,’ he concludes wisely.
He’s probably right. And it makes me wonder if perhaps baby Mabel is thinking the same about me.