In my new apartment the owner keeps a pet. I have been unaccustomed to such circumstances and have had to make some fair and suitable adaptations. For instance I don’t complain if I put my toe in the greasy slop of brown dog food that occupies the kitchen floor next to the sink. I do not say anything if I trip over the dog and nearly break my neck. I do not whinge if I get dog hair all over my clothes to the extent that it is I who looks like the animal. I have to say that these are all concessions on my part. I know. I have let psychological territory go.
I work from home and my flatmate, Terrence, now works in an office. This has given me an intense period of bonding with the pet. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sits in silience in the corner of the Living Room. It has a cushion. From this mantle it surveys and dictates what happens within its realm. Should I enter, the dog fixes its eyes on me and does not remove them until I have left. Of its power I am convinced.
I finish an article and go to the kitchen and speak to the dog.
‘How are things today?’
‘Look at you.’
‘Would you like a biscuit?’
All comments in a strange subservience to the mutt.
‘Is it time for a walk?’
I wait for the kettle to boil.
Of course, I know the dog will not answer me. The dog is far more controlled than that. The dog does not even move. It watches me. I take my coffee through to the other room and continue with my work. I shut the door to avert the gaze. Some work must get done.
Later I leave to stretch my legs. Again the calm surveillance of the the dogs eyes is there. Like Russian State Police, the gleaming black marbles observe me as I pace in the hallway. Sweat lining my brow I calmly state that I have nothing to declare. The King Charles does not flinch. Gazes on, soundless.
I return to work. This time I lock my room. I knuckle down to some writing, sure that that is what the dog wants. For me to work. I am convinced that there is a power structure in place in the flat. Not quite totalitarian. At the end of the day I print off the results of my toil and show it to the dog. Two measly pages it says with its stare, not moving from its cushion. Unimpressed, it orders me back to my room. I humbly comply.
It is two hours later that Terrence returns from work.
‘Jack? Are you here? Did you feed the dog yet?’
I open the door and crawl out of the bedroom on all fours.
‘I was waiting for him to feed me’, I say.