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Ian O'Doherty: Prozac for pooches

I am fully prepared to admit that I am a big old softie when it comes to animals in general, and dogs in particular.

But even I know that there are still some limits that have to be maintained.

That's why I was so gobsmacked the last time I was in New York and when I went down to Central Park there were people out walking their dogs -- with their dog in a bloody buggy.

Now, as much I may be guilty of anthropomorphising my pair, I reckon that the whole point of taking your dog for a walk is . . . to let the dog walk.

Somehow I doubt wandering around the park with your pet in a pram that, on one occasion, looked like it would be more expensive than a regular, human pram is the healthiest option.

And you look like a weirdo, to boot.

And don't even get me started on the latest stupid trend of people who dye their dogs pink. Yup, I'm referring to you, Emma Watson.

But it's not just mad New Yorkers (apparently the huge rate of dog ownership in that city is due to the cramped living conditions and the fact that many people living in Manhattan don't have kids so they sublimate their love into their canine companion) who make all dog owners seems bit daft, oh no.

Because the there is a new trend sweeping Britain at the moment -- dog psychiatry.

Yup, according to one animal behaviourist: "When people spend a long time away every day at work, leaving the dog on their own, often the animal suffers from psychological problems."

And what problems they are.

Some dogs have been prescribed Prozac and other mood relaxants, but I was particularly struck by one of the conditions they have had to treat -- anorexia.

Now, I often see Molly, my King Charles, looking at herself in the mirror, but I never realised it was just her checking to see that she hasn't put on any extra weight.

But here's a solution for those worried dog owners -- just bring them for a bloody long walk.

You'd be amazed at the results . . .

Oh dear. Here we go again

Where do you stand on bullying?

Let's face it, nobody likes a bully and I have never bought into the notion that they are just cowards looking for attention -- in my experience, most of them have been complete stone wall nutters.

And perhaps the only thing worse than a bloke who bullies other blokes is one who will do it to a girl.

And there was a particularly nauseating example of that on C5's Big Brother the other night involving Irish contestant Conor McIntyre.

McIntyre lost patience with a fellow housemate and exploded: "Stick your epilator up your arse. We don't give a f**k, stupid bitch."

He then went on a further tirade before saying that if she reacted to his rant, he "would punch her".

He has since been disciplined and warned about his behaviour but it got me thinking about the cynicism of the producers.

After all, only a few seasons ago a housemate was immediately evicted after she tried to be all streetwise and asked another woman: "Are you my nigger?"

Cue media outrage, complaints to Ofcom and the police from outraged viewers and apologies from Channel 4.

Now contrast how she was immediately booted out for an act of naivety, while a bloke who threatens to punch a girl is allowed to stay in.

Wow.

It's almost like they are only interested in viewing figures or something.

Well, that seems fair

Ever heard of Zareen Ahmadzi?

The chances are you haven't but it looks like he may feature heavily in the news over the next few days.

Our friend Zareen was a senior Taliban figure who saw plenty of active service, firing RPGs at American and British helicopters and has admitted to being in more firefights with coalition troops than he can remember.

So, he's one of the bad guys, right?

Wrong.

Zareen defected from the Taliban and somehow made his way to Britain, where he has been granted asylum.

And the reason?

Well, he says that if he is deported back to Afghanistan, then he faces torture and persecution at the hands of his old comrades.

Incredibly, the courts have said they couldn't possibly allow that to happen and have granted the man, who doesn't even speak English, the right to stay there.

But it's not all silver lining for Zareen, oh no -- because they have housed him in Wolverhampton.

And, with all due respect to the people of Wolverhampton, I give it a month before he is pining for the delights of Kandahar.

Harsh -- but extremely fair

I don't know about you but I simply cannot abide fast food.

I've heard tales from friends who worked in burger joints down the years and some of the stories about behind-the-counter hygiene would make you retch.

But even if the food was prepared in a clinical laboratory, I still couldn't be persuaded to eat it.

And I particularly don't understand the appeal of McDonalds.

As anyone who has seen Super Size Me will know, it's not great for your health.

And cops in America obviously subscribe to that theory.

Police arrested a man in Boston for throwing McDonalds fries at his stepdaughter when she was naughty.

And what has he been charged with? Well, they've done him for "assault with a deadly weapon".

Now, I know I don't like McDonald's food, but putting chips in the same category as an AK47 is probably stretching things a bit, don't you think?

Bookworm

In the final episode of what has been a thoroughly gripping trilogy, Robert Ferrigno's Heart of the Assassin sees an America riven in two -- the Christian Bible Belt and Islamic Republic.

Devastated by war and nuclear attacks, Washington is left as a radioactive slag heap which offers only death to those who enter.

But Rakkim Epps must go into the deserted city -- there is an ancient relic in what used to be the White House which offers the only hope to reunite the separated country.

It's a cracking good read and a worthy finale for what has been one of the most entertaining -- and extremely controversial -- trilogies in recent years.

Irish Independent