Dogs and dog-lovers
Hitler loved dogs, says Eilis O'Hanlon, but it didn't make him a better person
Irish people love their dogs. They love them so much, they let them relieve themselves everywhere so we can all step in the squelchy mess and share in the dubious delight of life with man's best friend. Or what comes out of the back end of man's best friend.
On the beach. In the street. Right outside your front door. Dog lovers don't care where it happens, just as long as they don't have to clean it up. An Easter-egg hunt even had to be cancelled recently when a child mistook some dog poop for hidden chocolate, all because some selfish sod couldn't be arsed (pun definitely intended) bringing a plastic bag along when they went for a walk with their incontinent little sidekick. Dogs are nothing but dung-producing machines who happen to have a vaguely cute exterior - and even that's debatable.
Still, Irish people on the whole simply refuse to accept that some of their fellow citizens don't like dogs, insisting that we might hate every dog we've ever met, but that we'll suddenly be won over by theirs.
"Oh, he's so friendly," they insist, as the horrible hound jumps up and puts his filthy paws all over your clothes, like a drunk on the last Dart home who can't keep his hands to himself. Since when was dry humping the leg of total strangers considered socially acceptable? For weeks you'll be picking hairs off your jumper, no matter how many times you put it through the washing machine.
As for that stain - it's best not to ask.
Then there are the barkers, kept out in the garden all day to make an unholy racket whenever anyone passes by, often while wagging their tails at the same time, proving again how unbelievably stupid dogs are.
"He's really gentle when you get to know him," the owners will invariably say if you complain at this constant growling aggression. That's probably what his friends said about the Yorkshire Ripper, too.
People invariably get dogs that are too big for the houses they live in. Then they get another. If you live in a small house, at least buy a small dog. It's not rocket science. The place would smell marginally better, for starters, because that's another thing - owning a dog apparently leads to an immediate loss of nose function. Why can't you notice the horrible doggy smell that now hangs over you like flies around a dustbin?
Worse still are the people who bring the dog with them when they visit. What, you expect me to let that thing inside so my house can smell as bad as yours? Yeah, right. But then the alternative is to leave it in the garden, which is even worse, because we all know what it's going to do in my grass, so you give in. OK, bring him inside. No, not on the couch! Too late. Great, now my furniture's as dirty as yours.
A tube of doggy toothpaste wouldn't hurt either. That muck they eat leaves their breath stinking like a week-old corpse. Not that owners seem to mind, as testified by the number willing to let the dog lick their faces. Why is it that, in a Catholic country where public displays of affection between members of the same species were once frowned upon, it's OK for a dog and its master to practically give one another a Frenchie?
They have such ridiculous names as well. It used to be that dogs were called sensible things like Fido and Rover, appropriate for their role as working animals. Now they're more likely to be christened Jacques or Candide, and have their own Facebook pages.
It wouldn't be so bad if these were nice-looking animals, but people have started getting those really ugly dogs too, such as pugs, which look as if they've been pummelled repeatedly in the face by an IRA punishment squad. "Isn't he adorable?" they coo. No, he isn't. If it wasn't for the fact he's dribbling on my new shoes, I wouldn't be able to tell which end I'm looking at.
The unending stream of high-pitched inanities that people engage in with their pampered pooches is a sure-fire sign that we're dealing with major levels of idiocy here. That loving dogs makes people revert to this state of babbling infantilism is just another symptom of terminal sentimentality - the great curse of our age.
These are the same people who can tuck into a lamb cutlet when the beast it came from was barely old enough to have watched Dora The Explorer, but get horrified that Koreans eat dogs. At least our Far East cousins have found a practical use for dogs, leading to the wise adage: "A puppy's not just for Christmas: if you're really careful, there should be some left over for Stephen's Day, too".
Dog owners seem to prefer their pooches to other members of the human race: fair enough, because people are quite annoying. On the other hand, it's only Homo sapiens who built the Taj Mahal, or composed symphonies, or wrote Romeo And Juliet. What have dogs ever done but drag their rear ends along the carpet to relieve an itch?
The only reason people like dogs is because they're loyal and obedient. You don't have to do anything to get a dog's undying affection. You just have to be there. Apart from politicians, what kind of person needs that sort of slavish adoration from dumb animals in order to make themselves feel valued? Far from seeing this relationship as evidence of emotional immaturity, however, going gooey over dogs is invariably presented as great evidence of compassion. Really? Because I'm pretty sure Hitler loved dogs too. It didn't make him a better person.
It's socially acceptable to say that you can't stand cats, even though they're clearly superior in every way to their canine counterparts; but to say that you don't share this national love affair with dogs, despite the fact they cause 99pc of cases of rabies worldwide, is still to be regarded in Ireland as a heartless, unfeeling monster.
What the adherents of this creepy and obsessive doggy cult don't realise is that there are more of us out there than you think. We just keep our real feelings to ourselves because you're such pathological nutters that our lives wouldn't be worth living if you knew how much we despise your beloved mutts. It's not our fault that you can't handle the truth.