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a dog blog

As is inevitable with almost all pets, my family dog Buddy has accrued a long list of nicknames since he came into our lives 11 years ago. These include:

Spud head
Mister Moo
Handsome Man
Big Lump (this is reserved for when he gets in my dad’s way in the kitchen)

My personal favourite, however, is ‘Monsieur’, which is short for ‘Monsieur Puppy’, something I’ve called him since he actually was a small puppy. Sometimes I even go as far as calling him ‘Mister Monsieur’, which doesn’t make any sense but does roll off the tongue very nicely.

I’m not entirely sure why or where this started, but referring to Buddy as Monsieur does allow me to build a narrative around his inner dog-life. He is a very large, almost completely white Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers are very intelligent when it comes to training and obeying commands, but they also (rightfully) have a reputation for being big oafs. This is partly to do with their undying loyalty, but also because you can hide a toy under a blanket right in front of their eyes and they genuinely will not know what you have done with it. Buddy is no exception -- he walks off lead beautifully, always recalls and can do tricks, but if you put on a different accent and call his name (to his face) he will look around for the stranger.

This makes it all the more funny to call him Monsieur, because I can imagine him as a very refined gentleman who likes the finer things in life. Perhaps he is an artist, or a respected teacher of some sort. He likes classical music, filet mignon and very long nineteenth-century novels. He dresses in suits as a rule, but he can be persuaded to put on a pair of slacks at the weekend, but only if they have been crisply crease-ironed.

Buddy obviously doesn’t do any of these things, although I’m sure he wouldn’t turn down the filet mignon. Writing all of this out does make me question my sanity, but I do know that lots of pet owners do the same thing. One of my friends has a British Shorthair cat called Albert who she always reimagines as a prince that believes that his ‘mama and papa’ are his servants and that everybody else apart from him is very stupid.

I think we like to imagine our pets as these very elevated, sometimes even regal, beings because they are indeed so elevated and regal to us. Buddy actually is a man of refined taste (he won’t eat non-gourmet crisps or white bread, and when he is showing off he walks like a dressage horse), but he does also try to drink out of puddles that smell disgusting. Nonetheless, he is treated like a dog befitting the ‘Mister Monsieur’ name and all that implies, especially when he stays at Hope Street Hotel or School Lane Hotel with me. Both of these hotels very enthusiastically accept dogs (and other pets!) as guests, and they are accordingly treated as Mister Monsieurs, or Missus Madames. Buddy is an incredibly social dog, so he loves sitting in 1931 or the bar area of The London Carriage Works getting pats from anybody who wants to approach him. He is also 11 years old now, so he equally loves going up to the room (or ‘his room’ as he likes to think of it) and settling down for the night, with lots of space for morning zoomies. In my head, Mister Monsieur would be a regular of both hotels because of the excellent food and design-led amenities, as well as the proximity to the bars and museums that he can enjoy his favourite music and art in. In real life, he’s just happy to be there with one of his humans.