I don’t accept the vet’s ‘expert’ opinion that my dog is a 26-year old man called Geoff and I never will.
Butch was running loose in the university library, asking if anyone had spare printer credits, when I first saw him. And as soon as I caught a glimpse of those doggy eyes, huge and brown with the most gorgeous eyelashes, I felt obliged to take in the cute little stray. I made a leash out of my belt and pulled him out of the reference section. To be honest, I struggled to keep Butch controlled on the bus back. Boy, I got some looks! But, you know what, I didn’t care. For once in my life, I was doing good.
That first night, I laid out a few blankets in the corner of my bedroom. Some hipster joker had dressed Butch up in one of those Brooklyn dog sweaters, but I soon had him out of that. And when he jumped into my bed in the dark hours, I have to admit, I didn’t complain, not even when he started whispering that he’d have to call the cops if I didn’t let him go. I’m a softie when it comes down to it.
I’d be lying if I said our first few weeks together were easy. I was coming out of a difficult relationship; it wasn’t a good time for me. Also, Butch wouldn’t quit telling me he was a 26-year old man called Geoff. But sharing a house with an animal is all about setting boundaries. Butch soon learnt the rules — he’s an intelligent dog — no chasing the mailman, no humping cushions and, most importantly, absolutely no more attempts to convince me he was a 26-year old man called Geoff. For a while, everything was pretty sweet, even the neighbours didn’t seem to care I had a pet. One even said it was great that I’d got some company at last!
Recently, Butch got ill. When I made an appointment to see the vet, I didn’t let him know until the moment we left the apartment. He’s always been an anxious dog and to say he didn’t cope well with his last visit — to have his balls cut off — is an understatement. Have you ever seen a dog cry?! Freaky. And it cost a fortune. That’s something else they don’t tell you — how expensive pets can be! I even had to get the operation done on the hush-hush, down in Mexico, something to do with Butch’s unusual breed and state laws or something. Poor little snuggums.
I let him wear clothes. He looks so sweet dressed up. And I’ve learned that, weird though it is, allowing Butch to wear pants outside the apartment really calms him down. It’s just another facet of his quirky personality, alongside his love of HBO and showers.
In the vet’s waiting room, all these other animals were barking and screeching and clawing but Butch was just there reading the National Geographic like a pro. When I described his symptoms to the vet, the guy wasn’t even listening. He was one of those young preppy types with opinions about everything. He gawped at Butch, saying something like ‘are you kidding me?’ When I finally got the guy to give a prognosis, like I was paying for, he said:
‘It’s a dude with a cold, man. It’s not a dog.’
‘I keep telling him that,’ said Butch.
I laughed, guessing I was being ‘pranked’. I’ve got a sense of humour. But no. The vet was adamant that Butch was a ‘dude’!
‘Look at him. He’s got no fur. He’s got no muzzle. His nose isn’t wet. He can talk. He’s like 5 foot 10. Dog’s a dude, sir. Come on.’
I told Butch to jump off the table and put his pants back on. I wasn’t paying top dollar for this anthropomorphic crap. The vet made noises about calling the police, but that’s just experts for you. And, all these experts, what do they know? I’ve had it up to here with experts. If Butch weren’t a dog, wouldn’t he have told me? Experts. Think about it. I mean, Butch has told me and many times but the thing about Butch is that he’s got this wicked sense of humour. Saying the word ‘bark’ instead of barking, walking upright, enjoying the novels of Lee Child: these are all part of his complex character and exactly why I fricking love him.
Try telling the ‘experts’ that.