The Third Leader: Heavy petting

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The Independent Online

Sometimes one surveys the news agenda with something approaching despair: is there no end (apart, of course, from the obvious one) to Life's problems? So many, and so insoluble: no wonder stress abounds. And now, I see, it's affecting our pets. Too many of them are being left alone for too long, and it's getting on their nerves.

You and I may long to be left alone; you might also think solitude preferable to the precarious positions on the food chain occupied in the wild; you will, though, have difficulty putting this across. But don't worry, as, in this instance, for once, there are solutions.

Here in The Leader Department, for example, we operate a pet open-door policy. No pet need be home alone. Imagine the happy daily scene as owners, deep in thought, sucking strongly on pipes, stare fixedly into the middle distance while their dumb (!) chums doze contentedly at their feet, or charge, gambol, slink, scurry, scuttle, slither and flap about, depending on how close it is to lunch.

It works surprisingly well, too, now we all know what the Africa Leader Writer's python is capable of (the Political Leader Writer's Yorkshire Terrier, sadly), and the Defence Leader Writer's parrot has learnt to shout warnings.

Not all employers are as enlightened and generous as ours, though. If you have to leave your pet at home, try to provide excitements to relieve the monotony. Videos of the postman, clockwork mice on timers, rainforest soundtracks, that sort of thing. And ring the changes. But carefully: a friend of the Binge Drinking Leader Writer was left with a large vet's bill after she moved the ladder in the budgie's cage overnight.