‘Cherie, let everyone on the tube see how beautiful you are!’ cooed the man before getting down on his knees and rubbing the shiny brown mongrel; ‘Cherie’ was a type of half-terrier, half hound with ears that curled into furry balls. We were on the crowded Piccadilly Line and when the dog-owner knelt down to pet his dog; his head collided with the other passengers’ legs. Cherie was an adored canine; she had a pink flowery dog collar with her name on it. The man fed Cherie some dog biscuits, and soothed, ‘now love, the journey won’t be much longer.’
‘She’s doing fine…’ the dog-owner’s exasperated girlfriend said.
The 20-something girlfriend tried to put her hand in her boyfriend’s. But he turned from her and praised Cherie, ‘you’re being such a good dog.’ The girlfriend left a tiny sigh escape. This was ignored by the boyfriend whose eyes never left Cherie. Maybe he was trying to give his human girlfriend a message. Poor Cherie then passed some wind, and her owner became very concerned; he turned to his girlfriend and started discussing the food that Cherie had eaten that may have caused this un-lady like behaviour. Had I been the girlfriend, then I’d have left the train at the next stop and never looked back.
Walking from South Kensington tube station, I saw a woman approach wearing a tiny purple sling; a black hairy head could be seen from the top of the sling and a body with a strange, sack-shape inhabited the custom-made-to-size sling. When she walked past me, the face of a pug with eyes like rolling marbles veered out from the sling. The proud dog-owner bent her head down to kiss her pug in his sling.
Over the past number of years; I have noted a difference in the way babies and dogs are treated in London Churches. Once at the 9 am at the Oratory, I saw a young mum trying to soothe a cranky baby, only for another woman to turn around and repeatedly hiss, ‘sssh! Go outside!’ But in the past week, there have been a few dogs brought into the Oratory, some have been tied up and have whined a little; other people praying in the church soothed and smiled at the dog as they passed by.
Babies don’t bite, but I’ve yet to see a baby being treated with such tender affection as reserved for four-legged friends in London society.