It’s A Dog’s Life

I really love dogs, always have, always will. I would love to have had a dog this last 40 odd years living in Hong Kong. But because I love them so much, I won’t get one.

Does that sound paradoxical? Let me explain.

All the time I was growing up in England until the time I went to secondary school we had a dog in our house. He was called Tinker because he was a bit of a gypsy. We were so close he slept in my room – sometimes in the cold weather under the blankets in bed with me, but don’t tell Mum. He was a mongrel – the best kind of dog in my view. His parents obviously fell in love at first sight, and ignored family opposition. Or perhaps they both just fancied a quickie. Otherwise how could he have had such a loving nature?

People don’t call a dog "man’s best friend" for nothing. A dog’s love is unequivocal, you’re his best buddy and he’ll never let you down. When you’ve made a mistake or done something wrong and everyone else is on your back, a dog will whimper and rest his head on your knee and give you a little lick here and there to let you know you still have one friend in all the world. He’s there to share your pain.

We lived on a council estate (UK equivalent of public housing) and our modest two-storey house had a small garden front and back. Tinker could do his business in the front garden and no-one complained because it helped Mum’s flowers grow. To the rear of the house was a hedge which separated all the back gardens from a large meadow. Rusty went there whenever he wanted and I sometimes sneaked after him though it was strictly forbidden for reasons I never quite understood. But not to worry, at the end of the street was a large public park. Tinker and I could run to it, chase about within, and then run home. And we did play together, every day. After all, I was in primary school and in England at that time that meant no homework.

Can anyone spot the difference between that lifestyle and our lives in Hong Kong? It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize winner, does it. Like the vast majority of local residents, I have always lived in high rise apartment blocks. Even if there was a small garden, you were not allowed to take your dog there, let alone allow him to do his business. Public parks indeed we have, but you can do very little in them and your dog must be on a lead (and muzzled in the lift on the way down to ground floor). Dogs don’t want to be kept on a lead any more than small boys. They want to run here and there, stopping at will to sniff anything that smells interesting.

Pooing to order on a newspaper? I don’t think so! Allowing him to go where he likes and then scooping up and disposing properly? Just how long would you retain respect for each other living like that.

Above all a dog needs and deserves your time. He wants to run with you and play and fetch a ball and receive your hugs. You want to feel his paws on your shoulders and his wet slobbery tongue on your face showing his appreciation. Alas in Hong Kong I’ve never had the time to look after a dog properly, and I refuse to demean the two of us by doing an imperfect job.

I love a dog too much, in memory of my Tinker.