Leading article: In the court of the canines

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The relationship between small dogs and celebrities is long established. Recently, no goddess of the silver screen was to be seen without a miniature pooch peeking out of her handbag, or being taken for walkies. Such photographs were usually accompanied by a moving story about how the little fellow was the most important man in the diva's life, especially following her recent, tragic break-up.

Lately, however, the idea of the small dog as indispensable fashion accessory has gone into decline, which may explain the growing number of such animals ending up in animal refuges. So it is good to hear that small dogs now have another public champion.

Step forward non-female tennis star Novak Djokovic and his little friend, Pierre, whose exclusion from dog-unfriendly Wimbledon has left the Serbian sportsman "genuinely upset". This sounds like a mould-breaking moment, up there with David Beckham's decision to wear a sarong. There is no reason for small dogs to belong almost exclusively in people's imaginations to rich women in Paris or Hollywood. Why shouldn't love blossom between little dogs and tough male stars? As a newspaper that consistently goes against the grain, we applaud Djokovic for going against a tired stereotype, and for, if we may say so, thinking independently.

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