Dogs, don’t you just love ‘em? Well, no, actually.
They’re loud, they’re smelly, they bite, they destroy. And that’s far from the worst of it.
They defecate all over the place.
That’s a long word for this time of the morning, but being a family newspaper, we’re not allowed to use the one with which we are all so much more familiar.
They do it on the pavements, in our gardens, on our Peace Bridge. It gets in between the treads of our bikes and onto the soles of our shoes.
And quite frankly, it’s downright disgusting.
It might be just imagination but Derry seems to have reached Third World levels of animals roaming around the streets just as they please.
At least in more enlightened parts of the world they run the risk of ending up on a menu if they stray too far from their kennel.
As a friend of mine once put it after South Korea’s amazing win over Italy in the 2002 World Cup: “I wouldn’t want to be a dog in Seoul tonight”.
Animals don’t belong in the city; they should be out there cavorting away to their hearts’ content in the green pastures of the countryside.
Cities are for people - life-forms who appreciate things like theatres and restaurants, the worth of a good glass of wine.
Beings that know the difference between a toilet and someone’s front garden.
It’s lovely to live in a nice suburban street, but just try slipping outside to enjoy a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee on a warm summer’s afternoon round our way.
Just as you relax back in your chair, Animal A, cooped up in the back yard below, gets wind there’s movement just behind him and starts barking his little head off.
That sets off Animal B next door who can’t see what’s going on, but is more than happy to take Animal A’s word for it.
Animal C two doors down, of course, down, doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun either so naturally joins in the chorus.
On and on it goes.
It’s like a doggy death row, all these pooches banged up all day and all night.
And these are the responsible owners - the ones who don’t let their animals out to poison our footpaths and frighten little children half to death.
If you took your one-year-old round to a friend’s house you’d be mortified if he barfed all over their new couch.
Down you’d get on your hands and knees, desperate to wipe away all evidence of your charge’s unfortunate lack of social etiquette.
Unless, of course, you happen to be a dog-lover.
In that case you’d sit back blithely as though completely unaware anything untoward had happened at all.
Even as you watch your best friend reach for the Domestos, you’d stare out the window and remark what a beautiful day it was.
Having the misfortune to have a tree in my own front garden I might as well adorn it with a sign saying ‘Doggy doo-doo welcome here’. Or words to that effect.
The simple domestic chore of mowing the lawn becomes a nightmare involving the use of chemical weapons.
If I wanted to spend my leisure time cleaning up after animals, I’d get one of my own.
I don’t, so I don’t.
No suburban home is complete, is seems, without some sort of animal to torture the rest of us.
Little Fluffykins might be the cutest pooch since the Lady and the Tramp, but she’s still carrying weapons of mass destruction.
Some owners are more than happy to doll their little pets up in stupid little costumes when the fancy takes them, so why not doggy diapers?
It’s not as if it’s going to embarrass the animals themselves, now is it?
And if the owners aren’t red-faced as they march away from the little presents so liberally distributed by their charges, then strapping on some Pampers is hardly going to make much of a difference.
To all those animal lovers in possession of a pooper-scooper - well done - if you ever use it, that is.
Shame on the rest of you who let your animals roam the streets making life a misery for the rest of us.