SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Our staycation cat-loving lodger is going to the dogs

OUR holiday sounds quite fancy — the south of France — until you add ‘in a tent’.

And when I say ‘in a tent’ I mean ‘at least I hope in a tent’.

In terms of holiday disorganisation, I have surpassed myself — all that is certain is a patch of campsite and an EasyJet ticket. If our friends, travelling in the same direction in various camper vans, have forgotten their spare tents for us to sleep in, the children and I will be experiencing the great outdoors at its most literal. As back up, I’m bringing a hammock and hoping it doesn’t rain.

Preparations have been scant because I have been pouring all my energy into the dogs, who are not coming camping because they would probably be nervous fliers. Instead, they are having a staycation with the lodger, who is taking time off work to look after them.

We have been building up to this for ages, because the lodger has no experience of dogs. Financial incentives have been dangled, rent has been slashed. (Hence France in a tent, rather than somewhere with a roof and walls; the dogs’ staycation works out about the same as a French chateau).

The thing is, the lodger, who is from a nuclear backwater near the Lithuania/Belarus border, likes cats. Loves them. And cats are very different from dogs.

If you leave a cat alone all day, it will make itself a sandwich and find the remote control, and have a nice time curled up shedding fur on your favourite coat while watching reruns of Born Free.

Not dogs. Dogs are a co-dependent’s dream. Also, ours know that the lodger is a total softie. They run rings around him. They laugh at him as he tries to gather them up to take them for a walk. They lie on their backs waving their paws in the air as he wrestles to put their harnesses on; they sit down when he wants them to go, and run away when he wants them to stay.

It must be quite frustrating for him, especially when the children have to come to his rescue, growling ferociously at the dogs so that they instantly jump to attention, and do exactly as they are told. Like I said, the lodger is a cat man.

So I have been making lots of helpful lists. The vet, the emergency vet, the free vet. The local dog walker in case the lodger breaks his leg in our absence. The local dog whisperer in case of doggy emotional meltdown. The Rottweiler’s eczema lotion, the German Shepherd’s stomach pills. Giant sacks of dog food, piles of tins and raw eggs. Treats, bones, chewy toys to distract them from eating the furniture.

I draw the line at installing CCTV, but don’t rule out Skype.

In case, you know, they have separation anxiety.


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