Today in New Delhi, India
Apr 19, 2019-Friday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Royal 'dog'ma bites

Instead of being put down, the royal bull terrier gets a second chance at good behaviour, writes Dr Saumya Balsari.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2004 22:53 IST
Dr Saumya Balsari
Dr Saumya Balsari

I have just paid my annual tax returns. I am deeply saddened by my paltry income. The weather reflects my wintry mood. I need to go out and get myself a real job. I should have been an animal psychologist. According to the Telegraph, Dr Roger Mugford of Surrey charges 293.75 for a two-hour home visit to work with dog and owner. I’m not sure, but I think that’s more than I would earn as a cleaning lady.

Perhaps I’d better check I’ve got what it takes to be an animal psychologist. There are occupational hazards, I hear, and animals aren’t human – they’re better behaved.

Everyone knows about Florence, the Princess Royal’s bull terrier. It bites. Hard. Ask the 50-year-old maid cleaning the room at Sandringham. Sadly, you can’t ask Pharos the corgi, which bit of the bite hurt – it is in canine heaven.

Surprisingly, instead of being put down, eight-year-old Florence gets a second chance at good behaviour, which is more than I ever got at school. Says Dr. Mugford: “There is probably some underlying medical factor. We are not talking about an inherently aggressive or dangerous dog.” That’s not what my GP said about me, but that’s neither here nor there. He added that he was sure the problem was feeling out of sorts, ‘a bit cranky’, perhaps ‘pain or old age’. Strange, that’s just what my GP said about me.

By now, the treatment must be two weeks old. Among the techniques Dr Mugford had in mind was to use himself as a ‘human stooge’ to re-enact the attack, which is rather like being the actor in Crimewatch, except that it’s for real. Er…I’m not sure my Botox can take the mauling. What I had in mind as an animal analyst was very different: I thought I’d have Florence on the couch (this means something very different in other contexts – don’t try this at home).

I thought I would sit on an enormous leather armchair (not IKEA) and as I don’t smoke a pipe or a cigar, I‘d eat chocolates (not Cadbury's) instead. I’d be Freud, and Florence would lie on the couch, preferably with eyes closed and a steel restraint. It might be an idea for me to lie on the couch and for Florence to sit on the armchair. That way I could take a nap, too.

Now, I already know that Florence’s four-year-old female offspring Dotty liked children so much she bit them, and that Dr Mugford has successfully cured her of that eating disorder. I’d still have to ask Florence, and perhaps even her owner the Princess Royal, at what point in her childhood the trauma began: Are mothers like daughters, or daughters like mothers?

Sometimes patients don’t respond favourably to questioning. Somehow, as the snow melts, I am dogged by the feeling animal psychology is not the occupation for me, after all. I think I’ll work for the Inland Revenue instead.

Snore cure
News of a minor operation is going to change life forever for desi women. Sadly, it has nothing to do with a mother-in-law. Chronic snorers apparently sleep for only four hours a night, and those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea can stop breathing for up to 30 times an hour. An estimated 3.5 million people in the UK have the condition. Dr Michael Arnoldner, an ear, nose and throat specialist has performed an operation on snorers to enhance the patient's quality of life. So what excuse do women have now, other than the old headache, for using the spare room?

Advantageous error
The February edition of a hillwalking magazine called Trail has given the wrong advice to walkers caught by bad weather and poor visibility on Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest peak. Basically, to cut a long story and life short, if you follow the magazine's directions, there’s only one way down. It’s quick, and possibly more painful than Florence’s bite, but you do get to meet Pharos the corgi, in heaven. The editor of the magazine has said, however, that he has been ‘gutted’ by the error, although he does not believe it would endanger anyone's life. A record number of desi men have booked hillwalking holidays to Ben Nevis with their wives since the erroneous directions became known.

(Saumya Balsari is the author of a forthcoming comic novel, and wrote a play for Kali Theatre Company's Futures last year. She is currently writing a second novel, another play and multicultural stories for children. She holds a doctorate and works in London as a journalist. )

First Published: Jan 31, 2004 21:43 IST