Diary of a Dog-walker

Diary of a Dog-walker by Edward Stourton Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Diary of a Dog-walker by Edward Stourton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edward Stourton
fulfilling his master’s private fantasies?
    Kudu looks at the dog first and the master second, and I have a shrewd idea that the Sumo and Barney stories would confirm one of his prejudices: I realize this is by far and away the most controversial statement this column has ever ventured, but I am beginning to suspect he disapproves of small dogs.
    We passed a woman on Clapham Common carrying a diminutive pooch like a baby in a papoose. Kudu did not growl – he has extremely good manners – but he fired a look of bemused disdain at the thing. What, after all, is the point of a walk if you cannot run constantly in circles on the important business of picking up smells, pausing only to roll in fox poo from time to time?
    Kudu may be on to something here: is a very small dog appropriate for a man in power? Vladimir Putin apparently thought not, and once told George Bush that a Scottish Terrier was beneath the dignity of a world leader, boasting that his own Labrador was ‘bigger, tougher, stronger, faster, meaner’ than the American First Dog. This took place before Barney’s savaging of the White House press corps, of course, and you can see where Mr Putin is coming from. But what sort of a politician thinks being mean is something to take pride in?
    Whether you look at the dog first or the man first, the principle is the same: you will know one ifyou know the other. And while party politics is not the business of the column, that is not a bad way to judge a leader.
    Oh, and I have a sense of where David Cameron stands on the dog thing, because of something he let slip in the studio. But I am keeping schtum.
    Cameron told me – I think during Thought for the Day – that he had once owned a Springer. At the time I worried that revealing this fact might have listeners pricking up their ears for any hint of a Tory bias in my broadcasting. He also warned me that they get smelly when they are old; we have not got there yet, but I suspect he is probably right.
    Join a US Howl-oween Parade? No thanks
…
    31 October 2009
    Restless on the Amtrak from Washington to New York, I made my way to the dining car. We were skimming the open reaches of water along the Delaware coast and, as I admired the handsome houses with their lawns down to moorings on the sound, I fell in with a couple of Wall Street types heading home.
    The collars were open, the silk ties at half-mast, the tailored suits a little rumpled, and they were lining up the beers. We talked escrow, liquidity andleverage. I shook my head sympathetically about the search for a zero-plus position, wondered how long the numbers would stack and went over the wall with them on a couple of deals. It was like being in a Spielberg movie – as America so often is: one of these guys, I thought, will get home and find an alien in the tool shed.
    The man in Institutional Risk Analysis – ho-ho, I hear you say – suddenly turned sentimental: ‘Can’t wait to get back to Westchester,’ he said, ‘and have a good romp with my Westie in the yard!’ He and his fellow Master of the Universe then talked dogs all the way through New Jersey with as much enthusiasm as they had shown for high finance.
    Travelling the United States with a dog columnist’s eye for the first time, I was struck by the way its dog cultures vary. Washington is an easy-going place with a southern culture of politesse: its dogs conform perfectly to its ethos, appearing for a leisurely amble along its wide, tree-lined streets twice daily, never pulling on their leads (unlike a certain person I could mention) and greeting one another with polite reserve. Most of the dogs I encountered in New York, by contrast, were like my hotel room there: tiny and ludicrously ‘designer’. And in the über-hip Californian workspace of the Google-plex (where, in a perfect Californian moment, I witnessed one of the Internet giant’s legendary founders

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