Meet my dog, Archer.
He’s a two-and-a-half-year-old Staffy-whippet cross and he’s been ruling my life for just over a year now.
Since the first day we brought him home from the local dog shelter (when he immediately emptied his bowels over our previously cream-coloured carpet) his antics have not ceased to both amuse and antagonise me.
Don’t be fooled by his adorable smile and well-mannered pose, because man’s best friend can be trouble.
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility; they’ll fill your life with joy and hilarity, but in return they depend on you to provide for them as their pack leader (which hopefully you are, otherwise you’re in trouble).
Here are some signs your dog has taken over your life. Do you have more?
Your dog’s comfort comes first
No other animal on this planet will bring you as much affection as your pooch, and if they’re anything like mine then they’ll need to sit on or near you at all times.
Want to get up for a drink but your dog’s asleep on your lap? You’ll just have to stay parched because you don’t want to disturb his slumber.
Everything you own is covered in dog hair
Furniture, blankets, clothes, towels and sometimes even in your food. No matter how much you vacuum you could still gather enough hair to make a brand-new dog.
You accept you can’t have nice things
That expensive floor lamp in your living room which had an exposed cable? Chewed.
A new pair of shoes you left out accidentally that somewhat resembled a dog toy? Destroyed.
Those DVDs and games you had stacked on the shelf of the TV stand? In pieces.
Do you replace them? No, because they might just end up being destroyed all over again. And so your floor lamp is now purely decorative, you have odd pairs of shoes and your favourite DVDs don’t have cases. But at least your new cushions are safe... for now.
Your social life takes a hit
You’ve been at work all day and you’re thinking about joining your friends for some impromptu drinks tonight. Tough, because unless you have a dog-sitter you’ll need to stay at home with your dog who needs to be walked, fed and entertained.
Arguably, this does have its advantages, like when you need an excuse to miss something. “I’m sorry Sarah, I can’t make your Dr Who-themed baby shower party. I have to stay at home with Archer…”
You start keeping a list of other dogs in your area
Once you form a routine for your dog’s walks you’ll inevitably run into a few of the neighbourhood’s other canine residents... some of which your pet may not get along with.
So, you start taking note of when they go out and what route they take, so you can avoid them.
On the other hand you’ll also make friends with other dog owners in the park, who you’ll only recognise again if they have their dog with them.
You start analysing your dog’s poo
You’ve changed pet food recently and need to know if your dog is ok with their new diet.
As you pick up their droppings from the grass you ask yourself: "do today’s nuggets look ‘normal’? Is it different to last week? And when did my life become this?"
You never eat alone (or do anything else alone)
Having anything edible in your hand instantly grabs your dog’s attention, meaning they must make eye contact with you and your snack at all times and sit as close to the food as you’ll allow.
They can also now tell the difference between the sound of a rustling bag of food and a rustling bag of anything else.
Even if you’re not eating they don’t want to be too far away from you, so they’ll follow you around from room to room meaning you’re never alone at home because…
You’re a dog entertainer now
You may want to sit down in front of the TV to relax, but your dog’s still full of energy and can’t settle down – better park that episode of Couples Come Dine with Me and play tug-of-war instead until he’s tired.