All dog owners develop a special relationship with their dogs, but the back and forth between Paris Portingale and pet poodle Gerry is…particularly…unique…
I love dogs. Cats are okay. I had a cat once, Murray. He was a good little chap, died coming back inside after a piss. Found him dead just inside the cat-flap. I think it was a heart-attack because his face was kind of screwed up and he had one paw up clutching his chest.
We buried him in the garden, put rocks on top so the dog wouldn’t dig him up. Eventually of course, Gerry, the dog, got suspicious. A couple of days after the event he came up to me, this was in the kitchen, I was making a sandwich, and he said, “Okay, where’s the cat?”
I said, “We had to bury him.”
He said, “Jesus God almighty, where?”
I said, “In the garden.”
He said, “Fuck me,” and stared trotting off.
I said, “Where are you going?” and he said, “Where do you think?”
I called after him, “He’s dead,” but I don’t think he heard me.
You see, this is why I like dogs. If Gerry had have died and Murray started wondering where he was and came up and said, “Okay, what have you done with the dog?” and I’d told him we had to bury him, Murray would have gone, “Okay, right you are then.” Cats have a different way of looking at things. You tell a dog the cat’s dead and they go, “The fuck you say.” You tell a cat the dog’s dead and they put on a sad look and then want to know what’s for dinner.
My dog Gerry
Me: “I just want you to come here.”
Gerry: “Why don’t you come over here?”
Me: “Look, will you please come fucking here.”
Gerry: “Please, well there’s a word you don’t hear coming out of your mouth often. Maybe I will come over there.”
Gerry: “When do you want me?”
Me: “Anytime in the next three seconds would be nice.”
Gerry: “Let me check my schedule… I can come over there around five if that’s any good.”
Me: “Fucking come here now.”
Gerry: “Look, before I go rushing into this, is there anything in it for me?”
Me: “Fucking, fucking, fucking…”
Sometimes he does come over if he gets bored with the back and forth. He walks slowly like he’s not going anywhere special, and then he’ll sit and just stare into the next room. He gets this expression that’s like, “Not doing nothing, just sitting, staring across into the next room there, thinking about stuff.”
We got Gerry from an accredited breeder. He’s what’s known as a standard poodle. Large dog, chocolate colour, we paid $650 for him. The usual price is $900 but we got him for $650 because the breeder said he was a little older than people like when they’re buying a puppy. That was crap of course, car salesman talk, the dog was clearly hard to shift. If you’re looking for an animal and you’ve got a choice between a nice looking little fellow for nine hundred bucks or one for six-fifty only, he’s clearly got attitude. Nine times out of ten you’re going to fork out the extra two-fifty and get something that’s going to come when you say, instead of making a major case out of it every time. Don’t get suckered into that kind of false economy, it’s not worth it.
Very early in the piece, Gerry decided he wasn’t going to do tricks.
I asked him why not, and he said, “Because it’d be demeaning to both of us.”
I said, “Really.”
He said, “Yes really. Demeaning to you because you’d look like an arsehole, and to me because I’d just look pathetic.”
I said, “Why don’t you just try one, you might find it fun. Roll over.”
He said, “No,” and I bent down and rolled him over on his side and he said, “Look, if you try that again I swear to God I’ll bite you,” and he called me a faggoty bastard and a couple of other things.
Anyway, he doesn’t do tricks.
Poodles are an exceptionally smart breed of dog and Gerry’s no exception. I got up the other morning and Gerry was already in the kitchen. He’d made himself coffee and he was sitting there on his mat, reading a book. It was Proust, Remembrance of Past Times, and I noticed it was in the original French. It’s a tricky book even in English, and I said to him, “You know you can get a translation of that.”
He looked up at me, and it was a look laden with disdain, with maybe a dash of pity, and he said, “What, into dog?”
He doesn’t bite. He’s threatened to on a couple of occasions, but I know he’d never do it. Instead he uses sarcasm and irony, the biting tools of a superior intellect, which he has. God bless him, the little bugger.