Blaise Tapp writes: After my tale of woe was published I was bombarded with all manner of ‘helpful’ advice from ‘just get them a ruddy dog’ to the impassioned ‘stand your ground, you’ll live to regret it’.
However, among the torrent of well meaning messages were the words of several of my wiser friends who suggested that we turn to one of a number of dog borrowing websites, which would allow us to dip our toes into the canine world without at least 10 years of vets’ bills.
Last month we did just that and, as I write, George the charismatic pug has visited us on five separate occasions and each time he has been welcomed like a returning victorious general, albeit one who can lick his own backside.
I don’t mind admitting it but I have quickly developed a soft spot for the little fella, largely due to the joy that he has brought to our kids, who are genuinely smitten.
Although I still remain to be convinced about permanently welcoming a four-legged friend into our home, I can now see why people are so attached to their dogs, which is why I raised an eyebrow when Pope Francis commented on pet ownership last week.
The pope caused debate across the world when he suggested that couples who chose to own dogs and cats rather than have children are acting selfishly, suggesting that it ‘diminishes us’.
As recently as three weeks ago I might well have agreed with the world’s most famous childless person, but now I find myself siding with the incensed masses, many of whom feel that this particular papal pronouncement was insensitive to say the very least.
But now that I have witnessed first hand how strong the bond between animal and human can be, I have a new understanding about why people treat their pets as though they were their children.
I know people who have chosen not to have kids and their reasons are nobody else’s business and although some of them have pets, none of them have made a conscious decision to swap disposable nappies for poop scoops - it is a natural progression.
While it is true that some childless couples use the nauseating term fur babies to describe their pets, the devotion that they display towards their animals is impressive and should be applauded rather than stigmatised.
After all, it takes a special kind of love to pick up another species’ poo and cart it around the local park for an hour and a half.
Now that I have experienced the unique charms of a dog for myself, it is clear that owning one isn’t that dissimilar to being a parent as, rather like children, hounds very rarely do what they are told unless there is something in it for them.
Having said that, I don’t think there has ever been a case of a dog running up an eye watering bill on the app store.
However, German shepherd dogs can’t get a round in and I have yet to read a report of a cockapoo putting the bins out.
I would be surprised if the pontiff’s remarks prompt millions of childless animal lovers into sticking on a bit of Barry White and starting a family because if we’ve learnt anything at all it is that very little can come between a person and their pets.