Pets need time and care and so aren’t for everyone


WHAT is the point of owning a pet?

A long-time friend named Matt and his girlfriend Miranda got a pug. Too small to be a real dog, barks at its shadow, only eats fresh meat, still isn’t toilet trained and looks like a rat whose face has been hit with a sledgehammer.

Last year, they didn’t take a holiday.

“We’d never put him in a kennel and tried leaving him with my Mum but we didn’t even make it out the door before little Petey shat on the carpet and
bit her.”

That’s right, Petey the pug.

Last Christmas they sent out cards featuring Petey and themselves in matching putrid sweaters. I’m serious. It was actually pretty funny.

They don’t come out any more either. This is because: “Petey gets so anxious if we stay out late. It’s so bad, he needs to sleep on our bed.”

Apparently their physical relationship hasn’t changed. I wonder if the dog watches or sleeps through it.

Next they moved to the outer ’burbs, filled a house with catalogue furniture and got a four-wheel-drive.

“Finding a place to rent with Petey was just too hard, and he needs a big backyard. We can’t take him to the park either because he doesn’t mix well with other dogs, and we don’t want him to
get sick. He hasn’t been vaccinated.”

Apparently they had less faith in dog vaccinations than people vaccinations, despite overwhelming evidence that supports the effectiveness of both.


“We can’t go out, but you’re more than welcome to come over here,” Matt told me.

So I tried visiting. Every attempted conversation was stopped by Petey’s piercing yelps, and them screaming “Shut up Petey!”, except when it was sleeping and expelling toxic plumes.

They’d tried dog school and barking training, but with no success.

Every conversation they did manage was all about Petey. I’d rather hear stories about someone’s children and I can’t stand those either. I haven’t seen Matt or Miranda since.

Some pets I don’t mind. I grew up with german shepherds and they were even-tempered and low maintenance. A couple of walks a day, much more effective than a doorbell and never bit anyone. Basically the anti-pug.

Still, I could never commit to a pet. There’s just so much stuff I’d rather be doing that I struggle to fit in at the moment – and I don’t have a dog, child, girlfriend or a real job.

Pets are supposed to be great for our mental health, but I don’t get it. I’m stressed out by the weekly body washing, monthly clothes cleaning and daily can-opening that’s involved in keeping myself alive, let alone caring for another living thing. I’m hesitant to have children for similar reasons.

Perhaps pets are useful for extroverts who just need someone to talk at and not with, after their friends have all deserted them.

pug defects

This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail:

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian

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