My Dog Had A Birthday This Week. Because That’s A Thing.

It was my dog’s birthday this week. A sentence, and concept, that only exists in places where all the essential needs of a population are pretty much covered. It is very much an idea that lives in a world where people celebrate uninspiring holidays such as ‘International Lefthanders Day’ or get furiously upset at the final episodes of TV shows.

These are the things that only people who don’t have to worry about survival contemplate. 

I mean, I haven’t done the research, but I would guess that there are exactly ZERO people running around places where they are desperate for clean drinking water that are worried about their sausage dogs birthday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. I love animals. I’m an actual vegan. But the very idea of a dog’s birthday is insane to me. It’s just another way that businesses have found to exploit love, and now, in the same way that I have to panic buy a gift for my girlfriend for Valentines day, I’m now expected to schedule in yet another bill to show my toy poodle that I love her.

For this reason, you can imagine my response this week when my girlfriend reminded me that it was our dog’s birthday and that we should spoil her.

Brilliant.

The day before the ‘big day’ arrived my girlfriend visited some specialist shop that sold items to pathetic people like us. She promptly called me, detailing all the goods on offer, with an excitement in her voice that I desperately tried not to extinguish.

And by, ‘desperately’, I mean, ‘for about 3 seconds.’

Girlfriend: We could get her a new dog toy?

Me: We could.

Girlfriend: They have DOG PROSECCO!

Me: Oh right.

Girlfriend: THERE’S AN ACTUAL DOG SHIRT THAT SAYS, ‘BIRTHDAY GIRL’ ON IT!

Me: How about you find a shirt with the words, ‘Remember when people used to have real jobs that met a need and capitalism wasn’t spewing out pointless merchandise for a vapid society that knows it’s days are numbered?’

At this point the phone went down and she bought a cupcake for £2.99. A compromise I was quite happy with.

I mean, fucking dog prosecco!? Has there ever been a more apt product for our times? A product that simultaneously shows how successful and utterly failing our society has become. The fact we design a product like this shows that we have elevated ourselves to a point where a large section of society live in relative comfort and no longer have to worry about the basics. But equally, there are actual human beings out there so lonely and devoid of human connection that they’re at a point where they want to share a pretend alcoholic drink with a member of another species.

On the morning of her birthday, before my girlfriend left for work, she instructed me to get up and wish her a happy birthday. Now, as a rational human being with no desire to do this, I flat out refused and stated that I would play no part in this pointless charade. There is no way that I would participate in what is essentially another way of human beings desperately trying to feel alive. Another way of giving this revolving sphere we call Earth meaning.

Fast forward 30 minutes and I found myself sat in front of my canine giving the most half hearted rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ out of some bizarre sense of duty. I then spent the rest of the day putting the word ‘birthday’ in front of all mundane daily tasks like the spineless moron I am. We went on a great ‘birthday walk’, enjoyed ‘birthday breakfast’ and then shared a relaxing afternoon on the couch where we had a ‘birthday cry at how quickly I sell out my beliefs for an easy life.’

I also have a pet tortoise who turns two in August. That gives me just five months to find the perfect gift for an animal that prefers leafy salads to me.

Wish me luck.

Leo. The French Bulldog of Terror.

The idea of having a dog is much better than actually having one. There. I said it.

My sister has just got back from a family holiday to Cuba, but a couple of months ago she asked us if we wanted to look after her French Bulldog, Leo, while she was away. I was apprehensive, but my girlfriend jumped at the chance. She’s wanted a dog since the day we got together and I knew she’d take him in a heartbeat. But this is a relationship, and like in all great relationships, we knew we’d have to have a serious conversation detailing the advantages and disadvantages of taking on a puppy.

The conversation went slightly like this:

Me: But we’ll have to feed him. Walk him. Pick up his shit. Base most of our decisions around him. It’s a commitment that…

Her: FRENCH BULLDOG!

It was a great argument from her and one that I simply couldn’t argue with. Reluctantly I agreed.

I mean, how hard could it be? It’s just a tiny, little French Bulldog. It’s not like it’s a Great Dane. (PLEASE IMAGINE ME SARCASTICALLY LAUGHING AFTER YOU READ THE NEXT SENTENCE.) We’ll barely notice he’s there.

Within 60 seconds of being in our house, Leo, (or the Demon Dog as we have now affectionately renamed him) had jumped on our sofa, cocked his leg and took a gigantic piss. It was a piss of defiance. A piss that told us we were in for a long two weeks. A piss that stained our expensive sofa and made us wish we’d taken out insurance on it.

Usually when we get home our routine is this,

Make tea. Turn TV on. Eat tea. Cuddle.

Leo decided this wasn’t a routine he particularly liked and decided to mix it up a bit. Our new routine was to go like this,

Make tea. Turn TV on. Begin to eat tea. Defend tea from jumping dog. Shout at girlfriend. Shout at dog. Miss TV show. Eat cold tea. Sit at the other end of the couch from girlfriend. Give evils to dog.

After tea, it was time for a walk. In my head, I thought this would be idyllic. The weather was glorious and we’d chosen to go for an evening stroll in a local park that was covered in greenery and bright summer flowers. How could this be anything other than perfect? I’ll tell you how. Leo decided to take a shit. Now, it’s completely normal for a dog to take a shit, but what we as new dog-sitters had forgotten, was that it was our duty to bag the mentioned poo and bin accordingly. We didn’t have a bag. So as grown adults, what we decided to do was run. Yes, you heard me right. We ran. Two adults in their late 20’s were now sprinting in the summer sun away from a turd. Like two bandits in the Wild West running from the law we ran as fast as our legs could take us. We finished that walk/run with improved cardio but a desire to get home before we got arrested for letting our dog desecrate a local park.

After the fiasco of the dog walk, we continued to attempt to watch TV with very little success and then before we knew it, it was midnight. In my head, this would be the easiest and most poetic part of the day. In just a matter of moments, Leo would be silently sleeping beside the bed while I held my girlfriend in my arms and looked around my kingdom with complete satisfaction. However, he didn’t play along with my silly idea of how life should be. He instead began to jump onto the side of the bed, crying for any attention he could receive. He did this for 45 minutes straight. All the time, I kept making eyeballs at my girlfriend to ignore him, insisting he would eventually give up and retreat to his bed. He never did give up and now at 12:45AM my steely determination to be the alpha male was wavering. My girlfriend suggested we let him sleep with us. I refused. We can’t let a dog sleep with us. That’s giving him what he wants. I simply won’t allow it. Not in my house. Not in my bed. Never. No way Jose. Nope. Nah.

1:04AM. Leo is now wedged in between me and my girlfriend. His testicles are looking at me in the eye, his snoring is keeping me awake and his farts have overpowered my very sense of self.

The next day began with him taking a shit in the kitchen and the following 13 days followed suit of what I have detailed in these first 12 hours of having him. I just want you to know that giving him back to my sister was one of the happiest days of my life.

I think next time we’ll just ask if we can look after her goldfish.