This toy dog may take the biscuit
IT’S the most peculiar time of the year. The time when, once again, you wander among girls’ clothes and women’s accessories, under the wary gaze of the X-Factor-Diana clones manning (girling?) the shops. They must guess, surely, you are buying all these glittery frivolities for mothers, and nieces, and female friends … mustn’t they? It’s the time when you happen across things which otherwise wouldn’t haunt your worst nightmares, like a toy dog, apparently selling out fast at around £120, which readily responds to commands like “sit up” and “beg” which, admittedly, is more than the nearest real dog of my acquaintance can be relied upon to do. Nor does this toy require walking, wee-ing or watching like a hawk when there’s toast around. However, if the toy “Biscuit” is the must-have gift of the year, one can only feel sorry for its left-on-the-shelf prototype, “Filo”, whose programming was limited to rolling over adorably and making “real puppy sounds” and whose sale price has been reduced to a measly £31. According to research by the University of Vienna’s neurobiology department, these puppy sounds might include howls of jealousy over the arrival of Biscuit. Yes, the land which gave us Wittgenstein, Doppler and Freud has finally exercised its considerable grey matter on scientific evidence that dogs get jealous, a theory I could have proved for nothing by showing them how my friend the greyhound always manoeuvres itself between me and its owner whenever we go for a walk. Some of our other friends say you must establish a wolfpack hierarchy between the humans and the dog, but there’s a risk of the woman and myself ending up at each other’s throats in an bid to establish leadership. “Are you top dog yet?” they tease me, knowing full well that in the present battle for supremacy I rank not only below her greyhound but some way behind the row of ceramic bird whistles she keeps on a shelf over her telly. I thought about rescuing a Filo. I could be top dog over a toy, probably. But I’m worried that the greyhound might think it was her puppy, and sort of adopt it, and then the woman would get jealous because the dog didn’t like her the best any more – and no amount of Christmas girly accessories is going to make up for that.