A friend of mine has a fluffy white dog called Jasmine. It’s a terrier, and like my friend it is pretty, friendly and charming. The dog is so strongly attached to its owner that it snuggles in bed with her every night.
In a way, this is not a problem. Annette is single and nobody else is trying to claim that position right now. But when she started to go out with John a while back, the dog was distraught at being cast out from its erstwhile home. Every night when John was making love to Annette, Jasmine would sit outside the bedroom, whining and whimpering and pawing at the door. It was only after John broke up with Annette (for reasons unconnected with the puppy) that Jasmine was happy again.
New Yorkers love their animals. They carry their tiny dogs in bags around the city; they plonk their chihuahuas in bicycle baskets and chauffeur them through the streets as the pooches twitch their noses and let their ears fly back in the breeze. Cats have an equally good time: lonely single city men and women lavish attention and love on creatures that will never reject them – after all the animals rely on them for food.
The situation is such that I know of no New York woman possessed of a cat or dog, who does not let it sleep in her bed every night. This might seem the most obvious snoozing place for a coddled pet, but the question is what happens when a new love arrives in human form. How would you feel if a prospective man or lady-friend led you to a bed that was covered in pet fur, and you tried to kiss and get to know each other while a bewildered, betrayed creature wept and scratched at the door outside?
The other possibility is that the cat or dog may simply take up all the affection a busy person has to offer. In contrast with human emotions, the adoration of a pet can seem seductively uncomplicated and pure.
I’m no cat-lover, but I inadvertently became a cat-owner just last week, when my housemate moved to California and decided to leave her cat behind in New York. His name is Little Guy and he’s been mine now for all of six days. Every evening when I come in the door, he leaps towards me for an embrace; when I sit down to read, he cuddles up beside me, purring with blissfully closed eyes; when I walk to the kitchen to make tea he follows, tail held high. I’ve never encountered such devotion from any creature, beast or man.
I’ve been dating a guy called Paul during the summer months. When I told him about my new acquisition his brow furrowed and he pointed out, “I’m allergic.” The extent of his reaction depends on the cat – how hairy it is and how much it sheds. Since I got Little Guy, we have spent the night at Paul’s place rather than at mine.
Who knows whether Little Guy’s arrival will spell the end of my relationship with Paul. If it does, though, I can take comfort in the knowledge that I share my bed with the most loyal and devoted male I have ever met – if not a man.