Dom Joly: Just updating the dog's CV, then it's Vancouver for me

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The Independent Online

It's a most peculiar thing – my RV tour of the Canadian Rockies is over and I'm sitting in a wonderful room at the Hotel Vancouver, the best address in town but... I sort of miss my RV. I find the sheer expanse of my hotel suite difficult to cope with, and getting used to large, soft beds with goose down pillows is tricky.

Actually, that's rubbish – I adore this grand old hotel and love being back in a big vibrant city. How- ever, RV life did have certain things going for it, especially where the kids were concerned.

We dropped it off in a distant suburb of the city. The office was run by a curious collection of Germans and Dutch ex-pats. A sign below the counter mysteriously informed me that the company was run on "biblical principles". I handed in the keys and caught a bus downtown. The moment we arrived, the kids were restless: "Can we go shopping? Can we go to the Imax? Can we go to an amusement arcade?" Big city life had taken hold already.

What had happened to their innocent hours spent trying to balance on a long piece of wood? What about the four hours they amused themselves spraying each other with a campsite hose? Not only were these simple pleasures... they were also free.

I suggested that we head for the wonderful Stanley Park – an urban space larger than Central Park right in the heart of this Pacific city. We could find a hose and I could spray them with water and there would be fallen logs there. They were not interested. How about we just take a picnic and sit quietly somewhere and read some books? Again, blank faces. How about we rent some bikes, go to the ice-cream store, then the beach, then a pool, then the Imax, then we can think about what to do after lunch? Hooray, they're all happy and we set off in the lift for our big day out in this most liveable of cities.

When we get down to the lobby, two lovely golden retrievers are stretched out on dog beds watching the world go by. They are Mavis and Beau – the hotel dogs. I know this because they are both wearing rather smart coats with their names on. They both lie right in the middle of the lobby, seemingly untroubled by the huge amount of foot traffic passing them by. I say passing them by, but almost every single person stops to stroke or cuddle the hounds and they accept this adulation with regal grace. I love the idea of hotel dogs. It's the sort of thing that you read about in grand old travel stories but were fairly certain had been stopped for health and safety reasons.

Given the ludicrous amount of legal waivers and disclaimers that I've had to sign before every activity on this trip I'm amazed that we didn't have to sign something promising that we would not sue the hotel should Mavis or Beau not pay us enough attention or start licking us. Whatever, the kids adore the dogs and we spend half an hour hogging their affection.

Stacey and I have already started talking about moving to Vancouver as we have fallen in love with the place, but one of the problems was our beloved dogs. Now, we realise that the position of "hotel dog" would be a perfect retirement job for Huxley. He could leave home every day and potter down to the hotel to take up his sleeping position for the day. He could gracefully accept the love of the public and watch the world go by.

I shall have a word with him when I get back and gently broach the subject. He loves Gloucestershire, but I think he'll adapt pretty quickly. I do need to get his CV up to scratch, though, and think of another job for Oscar.

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