If you ask me – and not to put too much of a dampener on the delights to follow – pets are for the birds. They smell, need more attention than your average high-maintenance creative and, if not watched, will use your bedspread as a lavatory. And – I'm kite-flying here, so bear with me – owning one might also be common.
I have a friend whose hobby is issuing edicts, and who gets enormous pleasure from alighting on something previously regarded as well-loved, above-board and fashionable, and then decreeing it to be "below stairs", or simply "common". I dimly remember that jet lag, Venice, being ill and saying "please" have all been identified by Nicky in this way, and I fear he might think the same about cats and dogs.
I, the jury, am still out on this one, although I can honestly say that in my adult life I've never been near the things, and I'm about as likely to buy a hamster, a goldfish or a snake to entertain me at home as I am to vote Liberal Democrat (honestly, you can check with William Hill). Obviously, if I were asked to take the family pet 12-step programme I would have to admit to having once owned – as a child you understand – four budgerigars named after football teams (Manchester City, Coventry City and Celtic all escaped one day when I was cleaning the cage, leaving lonely Norwich City to while away the hours complaining about his team's poor away form), a Jack Russell called Henry (she was a bitch, and Henrietta sounded a bit wet when bellowed in the local rec) and a large tabby called Tinkerbell, who later afforded me the rather successful porn name Tinkerbell Wilshire (first pet, mother's maiden name). But since then, nothing. I know lots of people who have exotic collections of tropical fish, but much as I like the way they look, I've always thought keeping them was cruel (irrationally, I know, as I eat foie gras and veal). I also have quite a few friends with dogs, but their purchase often strikes me as a rather desperate grasp at status (bar dachshunds, of course), like buying an expensive car or having more children than you strictly need.
However, I fear my personal predilections are evaporating, as my reasons for not wanting a pet are about to be superseded by my youngest daughter's overwhelming desire for one. When a seven-year-old says, "Daddy, I'm bursting for a dog," there's not a lot you can do, is there?
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'Reuse content