SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Why dogs are a single parent’s best friend

IT is a universal truth that a single parent in a chaotic household will be in want of a dog.

Or dogs. A suggested ratio would be one dog per child, not as a pet, but as a canine counterbalance.

For every door-slamming, tenner-demanding, sock-dropping, fridge-emptying underage tyrant, there will be a tail-wagging, melty-eyed creature always delighted to see you, and who will hang on your every word, even if that word is GET-OFF-THE-SOFA-YOU-STUPID-FILTHY-MUTT.

The solace of dogs in the hurricane of single parenting cannot be overstated.

Human boyfriends are wonderful, and should be encouraged, but for uncomplicated, 24/7 devotion, dogs remain unchallenged. Their greatest asset is their inability to speak, and the simplicity of their needs.

They require no relationship counselling, no help with unfathomable homework, nor stressful shopping trips. They never want stupid trainers that cost three figures yet are made by children in sweatshops, nor do dogs become so Xboxed that they can communicate only in offhand grunts. Dogs do not break up with that weird girl from down the road, nor hopelessly fancy the boy in their art class.

They don’t look at their dinner and make vomiting noises, nor suddenly announce that they have signed up with a football team 20 miles away and need a lift there three times a week, including first thing Sunday mornings.

Nor do they bring awkward friends home who stand in the kitchen reeling off a wide list of basic foodstuffs to which they are ‘allergic’, just as you make their dinner.

They don’t put empty juice cartons back in the fridge, or devour its contents within hours of you returning whey-faced from the supermarket, then complain that there is no food in the house. They do not embark on experimental baking projects at eleven at night, leaving the kitchen looking like it has been the target of a drone attack.

No. Dogs do none of those things. They just eat, sleep, and go for walks. You are the centre of their world, but in a good way. Their adoration is constant. So when they come back from their walks looking like they have been dipped in chocolate — except it’s not chocolate, it’s weapons-grade muck — and flop down on the white sheepskin rug, panting, you can hardly freak out.

When the Rottweiler eats your wellies, and the German Shepherd shakes herself all over the bathroom after you have showered off the mud, pebble-dashing the white walls and ceilings in brown clumps, it’s not like you can object. Remember — these dogs are your sanity. Your antidote to humans. Worth their weight in mud.


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