What do you call this? I disappear for two weeks and the place goes to pot. Look at the mess in here! Empty packets of Wotsits, half-eaten Ginsters and a mysterious pile of popped bubble wrap. Would you carry on like that in your own home? Didn't think so. We run a tight ship here. No room for mucky pups.
So, chastisement out of the way, I'll take the editorially elegant road and remain on the subject of pups, mucky or otherwise. Those of you familiar with my innermost wants and aspirations will be aware that I have long longed for a dog of my very own. Others count sheep. With me it's Irish terriers. We always had a family dog when I was growing up and in all honesty I have a hole in my adult soul where a dog should be.
Sadly, the dictates of our tenancy agreement mean we can't get a dog while we live in our current flat but, given that we are currently scouring south-east London for a house to call our own, I have a modicum of hope I may soon be able to get my dog. Ah, what a wonderful day that will be. We actually have that very special event already planned. As soon as we have moved into our new home, we shall visit Battersea Dog (and cat) Home in London and pick out our furry little life partner. Incidentally, I put "and cat" in parentheses because I find cats loathsome and they deserve nothing less than to be bracketed between two, er, brackets. Or used as substitute targets if the expected worldwide shortage of clay pigeons materialises.
Of course, dogs from places like Battersea don't cost anything. Our only expense will be to feed the little critter for the next decade or so and make sure it has enough squeaky rubber things to chew.
In China, though, it is possible to get yourself a dog and be enormously out of pocket right from the off. Last month in the province of Zhejiang a Tibetan mastiff puppy was sold for nearly £1.2m, annihilating the previous record for the world's most expensive bone-sucker. A property magnate dropped 12 million yuan for the one-year-old behemoth – which weighs a patio-cracking 80kg and is in possession of a quite magnificent golden mane – at a prestige pet show in Hangzhou. Another example of the breed was sold for £600,000. Zhang Gengyun, the chap who bred both dogs, said (in Chinese, presumably): "They have lion's blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs."
Hold on … lion's blood? I find that pretty hard to believe. The last time such a claim was made was when erstwhile drug-enjoyer Charlie Sheen said he had tiger blood. And look what happened to him. That's right: he ended up getting a brand new sitcom and a sackful of money from his old employers. Hmm. Maybe we should give Battersea a miss and head to Chinatown…