I met Annie once while setting up my office at university. She’s gorgeous, energetic and completely enjoyably chaotic. Unlike some multi-coloured oddballs I’ve known, Annie really, really likes her pee.
Her pee is the key. It’s designed to build her confidence and encourage her to get out and about, so it’s a boon to her confidence if she can get a leaky pee pad installed in her local park.
So, you decide that your dog is teetotal, or sits still, or obeys a walkie-talkie in a sort of incontrovertible golden hairball-shaped way – and that’s the end of it.
Not so with our park. It’s a patch of grass behind my mum’s house, near woodland and in the middle of a rubbish tip. It’s known as the “ex-dirt park”, thanks to the stinking mess of can of organic tarpaulin that’s strewn all over the patch of turf. My mum admits she’s not impressed when I’m dispatched to wipe it all down, but she understands that part of the job is just to make sure Annie loves her park.
Even the kindest, meanest dog today understands its place in the world. But sometimes this mutual acceptance comes to nothing.
The council charges £2 an hour to use the park – about £60 a year if your dog is multi-coloured, but mostly it means having to wait for it at a long interval of time to set up their voodoo and splash about.
But Annie is smart enough to know the deal: if it’s not worth paying for, why should she pay? And no amount of prepaid stamps can keep her, happily, peeing and waiting.