The wolfpack on the tundra! Yes! Because this column does not often run to affirmation, the sighting of an exclamation mark is rarer than a Large Unsolicited Discretionary Order in The Time of MiFID and in this edition there are two of them on the first line. Whatever will he think of next? Emojis? What should trigger such typographical incontinence? It was my daughter telling me that the yeasayers in the family had vanquished the naysayers and we were about to become the guardians of a husky puppy.
My first thought then, was a vision of said husky pulling me on a sled across a snowbound Richmond Park and me glowering, all handsome and moody like Eugene Onegin, while the the sun sets behind the frozen larch forest.
My second thought, however, was that only a second-rate columnist files copy focused primarily on the clichés of pet ownership but only the most marble-hearted of readers (you know who you are) would begrudge me a lapse into self-indulgence. I shan’t mention him again.
For genuine logophiles, nomenclature is a sacred ritual and I was anxious that the dog’s name should be appropriate and etymologically sound. I suggested Lupus. My daughter suggested Pablo. I suggested Eskimo (the name husky is a corruption of the Inuit ‘eskimo’). My daughter suggested Pablo. I suggested Taiga. She suggested Pablo. I suggested Timber. We called the dog Pablo.
I asked her why she was so dead set on Pablo and wondered if it were taken from one of those childhood books I would read to her in bed about little girls with puppies or kittens. No, she saw Narcos on Netflix recently. Never such innocence again. My son thinks he’s Charlie Sheen, my daughter names her puppy after Pablo Escobar.
Rather like me, Pablo is a mongrel of complex breeding, and not a thoroughbred husky with perhaps only half his genes deriving from large-size working dogs used in northern regions to pull sleds. The rest seem to have been donated by an uncertain ratio of alsatian and labrador and, given his disturbing herbivorous tendencies, an unusual breed of sheep. My son smokes grass. My dog eats it. I want to see him loping across the taiga.
A right howler
Given the trauma of the slow motion car crash which is Stockbroking In The Time Of MiFID, you might be forgiven for questioning the motives behind taking ownership of a nine week old bundle of fur and fangs with a propensity to perform prodigious feats of defecation on every Turkish rug in the house and maintain a high and wild ululation for hours of time overnight. That’s a good question, if I had to ask it myself.
First, it’s a relief to not be the one bearing the most mournful expression in the house. Secondly, there’s someone clearly below me now in the domestic pecking order who can occupy a literal doghouse while I spend most of the time hunkering down in the metaphorical version.
Lastly, of course, there was this perfectly circular lacuna in my life which will never be closed but I thought a dog might distract me, offer a more receptive vehicle for my torrential imagination, listen sympathetically with cocked head and total discretion to my lamentations and howl at the moon on my behalf.
I am naturally concerned that pets come to resemble their owners (or is it vice versa?) and I have passed a few sleepless nights with canine angst weighing down heavily on my breast, worrying whether Pablo is going to develop the hangdog expression of Sid James or I’m going to start slobbering and grow oversized canines.
In life, I’m always struck by the frequent propinquity of the endless cycles of birth and death and it was a sad irony that the only other dog I have ever written about in these here parts, a bulldog called Ernie, joined the celestial pack of hounds a fortnight back.
After hearing my complaints about the cleanliness of streets in the City, so bereft of dogmerdes which, according to Liverpool lore would bring good fortune to he who trod in them, my friend Jennifer would send me pictures of the stools which Ernie laid on his morning constitutional.
For a short period, Ernie’s movements seemed to presage a successful day’s stockbroking and I began to watch a strong correlation develop between the quality and regularity of his output and my own. Like all magic, it stopped working in the end but in terms of delivering successful stockbroking outcomes, it was no worse than any other initiative.
Now Ernie has hung up his leash forever and laid down in front of the hearth eternal, it’s fortunate that I can rely on Pablo’s pebble-dashed propitiations, strewn liberally about the house, to appease the stockbroking gods.
I’ve been treading in figurative dogmerdes my whole life but now I have the real things and often a choice of puddle or pile. I’m building up a stack of healthy credit when it comes to the ledger of good fortune and misfortune. Scatomancy is by no means a lost art in the House The Locals Know As The Pained Trader’s Folly.
I advertised for an occasional puppy-sitter on a local website last week and was immediately bombarded by every fruitcake in south west London’s leafiest suburb, offering their services.
The first person to call me told me his wife had left him, she’d taken the dog but he loved animals and wanted £15 per hour. I calculated that he would be earning more than a Stockbroker in the Time of MiFID if I hired him full-time and I would end up as his part-time therapist. Last time I checked this was not a white-collar job. It’s a dog-collar job. They are just picking turds up, not polishing them like I must.
Subsequent applicants offered less introspection and I found myself almost instinctively being drawn to female voices on the phone and almost tempted to request they send me a photo of themselves along with a shot of their mutt. All they could see of me was Pablo and that is undoubtedly my best feature. I’ve replaced my own photo with a snap of the husky, couchant on the back lawn, on all my dating app profiles.
Yes, rates for dog care are not dissimilar to those for childcare and I find myself realising that I now have another obligation for whom I must work, another mouth to feed, another reason why I cannot hurl the alarm clock through the bedroom window when it asserts its auroral tyranny.
It’s a dog’s life for me, but anything for pampered pooch Pablo. A dog is for life but a sales-trader isn’t and don’t I know it.