Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Learned Treatise on Dogs on (Canal) Boats Part II

When I said in my last post, part 2 “tomorrow”, I meant that in the Donald trump sense.  Don’t worry, it’s gonna be great.

I feel I have adequately demonstrated my credentials as a world authority on DogsonBoats, but as further proof of what I said last time, I have located a photo of our Sheltie Jaz attempting to walk the gunnel of a hire boat.

Photograph (10)

As you can see, she is having second thoughts.  I don’t recall if she tried to turn and then fell in the canal, but probably.  I shall not be recommending Shelties as ideal DogsonBoats.

And so to the meat of my thesis, popular breeds and their owners.  Let us start with the ubiquitous Staffordshire Bull Terrier. 

Staffies are acquired, mostly by single men of socio economic groups D and E, in the mistaken belief that it will increase their macho credentials, and in the eyes of the non cognoscenti, this may work.   It is true that they could probably bite a windlass in half, or crunch through a mooring chain, but unlike their nasty cousin the American Pit Bull, you are far more likely to be licked by one than bitten by one.  So they sit on the rear deck, quietly watching the world go by, generally doing as little as possible and putting on weight. Their owners quickly learn that despite their often terrifying appearance, they are soft, sweet natured and afectionate.  This is the ideal dog for the low energy boater.  It is pointless throwing a Staffie a ball or a stick, because it will demolish the missile with a single bite on reaching it so there’ll be zilch to bring back.  As to feeding, they eat anything.  If you run out of biscuits, they might be perfectly happy with half a dozen nuts and bolts.

Now to the other end of the energy scale.  The Border Collie – living proof that genius is close to madness.  These brilliant dogs can operate see saws, run through mazes, drive sheep through a gate and into a pen, and could probably solve third order differential equations if they could hold a pencil.  On the downside however they all seem to suffer from ADHD and have to be doing something all the time.  This is the reason that Border Collie owners are either superbly fit or completely knackered.  In truth ColliesonBoats prefer to be ColliesontheTowpath.  If only they could be trained to go ahead and set the next lock, they’d be perfect.

Now we come to a dog with supernatural powers.  The Greyhound.  These come in two types, the normal, and the retired racer.  Both types have a common skill, which is hypnotism.  In the verbal sense, Greyhounds don’t have a lot to say. They slink about in complete silence, find your favourite chair and lie in it. A big racer can easily occupy a three seater sofa on his own. However they have acquired to power to instruct their owners through their eyes with subliminal messages such as “You will adopt another three retired racers as company for me”, or “I refuse to pee here, please take me to my favourite spot fourteen miles away or my bladder will burst and you’ll have yet another expensive vets bill.”  The dogs’ powers of hypnosis ensure complete and utter dedication and devotion to their every need. What these dogs are operating is a secret cult like the Moonies or something. Perhaps their ought to be a treatment centre somewhere to cure owners who have escaped.  

The reason vets have expensive Range Rovers and nice houses is principally due to the retired racing Greyhound, which like all finely tuned racers is prone to injury.  This is especially true of the creature’s skin, which appears to be about one micron thick, so that a brush against a dralon sofa will produce a wound needing medical attention. These are of course supremely athletic dogs capable of running along the entire grand union canal in about three minutes.  The only sound they make is the sonic boom as they pass. Despite this they are fascinatingly reluctant to step over a six inch gap between boat and bank and so need lifting across.  So we come to their boating owners.  Those of “normal” greyhounds tend to be single people who enjoy the quiet telepathic bond with their dog.  Those owners of ex racing greyhounds are almost always couples with a good joint income to cover the vet’s bills. Generally speaking their sacrifice and generosity (even to humans) knows no bounds. What else could you say of a lady who willingly stood on a boat for a whole day in the cold pouring rain in a soaking Womble costume to publicise a Greyhound charity? The most impressive special skill of owners of racers is that of recognising one greyhound from another.  To the rest of us they all look identical.  Having cruised on a narrowboat through the Thames barrier with five of these animals, all I can say is that I was glad they all had colour coded collars. So to keep a Greyhound on a boat, you need to prefer non verbal communication, not have a favourite seat of your own (or fool the dog into thinking it’s a different one), and never look into its eyes or you will be lost.

Finally a dog which will follow you around like a, um, well, like a little dog I suppose.  It is the ever popular Jack Russell Terrier.  These come in a range of colours and sizes and temperaments.  The good ones are sweet and gentle and the not so good ones will display a savagery worthy of a beast ten times their size. On the deck of your boat, a bucket of soapy water and a scrubbing  wouldn’t go amiss, because the JRT does like to roll in the leavings of other dogs and, worse, of foxes.  A good JRT, being of small stature is happy on a boat, is a good guard dog and will get on well with your friends and not mess up their boats.  They live for ages and the running costs are low.  Being so portable they can, and will, go everywhere with you.  JRT owners are a very mixed bunch, singles, couples, rich, poor, high energy, low energy.  Could this be the ideal DogonaBoat?

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