Will Self: PsychoGeography - Going to the dogs

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The Independent Online

Crumbling the progesterone into Cyril's Pedigree Chum worked, and a litter of Jack Russell puppies duly arrived. Staying with Cyril's human "owners" in the Vale of Pershore, my 10-year-old got up early and spent the morning with the little bundles of joy. He battened on to the spunkiest one of the litter, a bite-sized doglet he dubbed Maglorian. Why Maglorian? Well, the child has a considerable – and in my view, misplaced – affection for the works of J K Rowling, and apparently there's a centaur called Magorian that lives in the Magic Forest adjacent to Hogwarts. However, Magorian, he explained, "sounds too gory", so the "L" was inserted so that "he can be 'Glory' for short".

But I wasn't willing to call anything Glory for short – it's either too homoerotic, or too patriotic; reminiscent either of the glory holes of Manhattan's Mineshaft in the early Eighties, or else of "Land of Hope and Glory"; either way, you won't get me wandering round south-London parks shouting "Glory!" at the top of my voice – what do you think I am, a cabinet minister?

Disputes about nomenclature set to one side there was no further let or hindrance to the beast pitching up, which, a few weeks later he did. Now, my resistance to canine culture is a matter of record: not for me the shit-picking, dull-walking two-step of the tethered promenade, nor the exorbitant veterinary bills; to round up sheep with a beautifully trained collie, using only a whistle and a crook is one thing, but to lower your emotional horizon to the level of these urban pavement-crawlers, selectively bred to fulfil the furry baby fantasies of the frustrated and the barren, well, that suckles.

Still, it was pointed out me, quite forcibly, that small boys need dogs, and so there was Maglorian: an itty-bitty fait accompli with tan and cream markings. Then, horror of horrors, a dreadful thing happened, the Dog Instigator had to go away for a few days leaving me in sole charge of the puppy. Well, I may be a hardhearted bastard, but I'm not a robot, and an infant is an infant, even one with a muzzle and claws. What I'm scratching at here is that – in psychoanalytic jargon – Maglorian and I both cathected. Of course, he has imprinted me radically differently to the way I have him: to him I am a noble pack leader, scouring the horizon for the next kill, and planning how to separate the vulnerable straggler from the herd then rip its throat out; whereas, to me, Maglorian's an itty-bitty ... well, I think I'll spare you any further nausea.

My dog ownership is gifting me some new insights into the patch of town I've been pissing in for the past decade; there's an entire stratum of local society that I've previously been excluded from: the nervy lady who looks like the late Dick Emery doing a drag act, and who punctually at 9.00am walks her miniature spaniel along our road; the muscular six-foot clone in the bomber jacket with the short-haired Alsatian; the elderly gent who has come, inexorably, to resemble his arthritic Airedale terrier – with all of them I am now on nodding terms. Actually, I've always been on nodding terms with them, but now the nod is just a fraction deeper, the chin tucked down to the chest in a submissive way as we mutually acknowledge the Suzerainty of the Hound.

No, it's not the local dog people that bother me it's the ignorant masses who coo and bill over Maglorian wherever I take him. I swear, if another femme d'un certain age, or broody couple, comes waggling up to me, speaking in baby talk, and twittering away about how sweeeet he is, I'm going to puke. Have these people no shame? Of course, I understand that they don't really want to have dog babies any more than I do, it's just an atavistic impulse, of the same order that makes perfectly respectable stockbrokers put on three-piece tweed suits and shoot more pheasants than they could ever possibly eat.

Perversely, although we chose Maglorian on the grounds that a small dog was better for town, the Dog Instigator has been reading up on Jack Russells, and it turns out that they are regarded as "big dogs wearing little dog suits". I thought as much, when the five-month-old pup happily trotted along behind me for a strenuous six-mile walk. This is no lapdog to be concealed in a feminine muff (or ruff, if you're prudish), but a noble fox terrier, a working dog, capable of tearing Vulpes vulpes apart in seconds. Good thing too – since there are plenty of foxes in this neck of the woods.

Yes, as soon is Maglorian is full grown I'm going to take him out into the Magic Forest and let him bring his near-namesake to bay. A horse with a man growing out of its back? Goddamn mutants shouldn't be allowed.

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