Every dog has its day, as Best in Class Rovi can attest


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The Independent Online

In the letters column of this newspaper yesterday, Simon Manton writes: "I assume that Simon Kelner has never been through the trials, tribulations and embarrassments of owning a dog." Oh, how little you know about me, dear reader.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of working closely with me over recent years will have seen the pictures, heard the stories, maybe even read the newspaper articles about my very own eight-year-old standard long-haired dachshund called Rovi (short for Rover). So, Mr Manton, when it comes to dogs, I will see you and raise you. Not only have I experienced trials, tribulations and embarrassment, but also pride, joy, and the occasional thrill.

I was being taken to task for my reaction to the YouTube clip of a hapless owner chasing his black labrador, Fenton, who was, in turn, chasing a herd of deer. It's a piece of film that's now as familiar to the nation as the rear view of Pippa Middleton at the Royal Wedding.

I don't find the footage especially funny, and Mr Manton claims it's because I can't identify with the voluble exasperation of the dog's owner. He may have a point, but, if so, it's because I can't identify with the dog. The idea of my dachshund chasing after a pack of animals is fanciful in the extreme, largely because he, rather than I, would die of embarrassment if he ended up as a YouTube sensation.

He's never sought the limelight, so when his fledgling career as show dog came to an end, he was happy to go back to a quiet life. Astonished at how good-looking he was as a youngster (funny how parents think that about their offspring), we entered him for a dog show in Bedford, where he went through his paces in a characteristically self-effacing manner.

Indeed, if it were possible for dogs to blush, he'd have had a red face to match his coat. Anyway, with his noble countenance and unruffled attitude, he won best in class, and he has the rosette to prove it. The fact that he was the only in class is neither here nor there: he retired at the top, and while he has a good sense of humour, he has no ambition to be a comedy internet hit.

I am sure, however, that Fenton was exercised because he envisaged a running buffet of venison: Fred MacAulay, the Scottish comedian, does a brilliant routine in which he says that, several generations ago, a labrador once missed a meal, with the result that, ever since, labradors have a neurotic obsession that someone will forget about feeding them.

Rovi, by contrast, has a more refined palate, but if he ever sees some sautéed calves liver with rosemary jus cross his horizon, he'll be chasing after it as fast as his little legs will carry him. I think it's fair to say, Mr Manton, that I'm in tune with my inner dog.

In fact, I once told a psychiatrist that I believed I was a dog. Lie down on the couch, he said. Oh no, I replied. I'm not allowed on the couch. Woof woof!