Picture: Max Pixel
There have always been dogs in my life. 

I grew up on a sheep farm and dogs were a vital part of farm life. Apart from the working sheepdogs, my mother always had a pet dog of her own. At one stage it was a corgi called Beau. I think she got it because Queen Elizabeth II likes corgis.

We also had pointers - Dainty and Fancy - two of the most pathetic cowards that ever lived. Once they were attacked by a mole and the mole chased them away after biting Dainty on the nose. They were supposed to accompany my father as he strode across the Karoo moors in pursuit of pheasants. Well, anyway, Guinea fowls. Not only were they gun-shy, they were bird-shy - not good for a hunting dog.

In my adult life I have owned several sausage dogs and one huge ridgeback.

Recently I decided I preferred the serenity of living with cats. Dogs require a lot of energy and I am not energetic. I confess though that I have never brushed a dog’s teeth. I have never known a dog owner who has brushed a dog’s teeth. Not one of the many border collies that worked on the farm had its teeth brushed. Wild dogs and wolves have existed for millions of years without brushing their teeth.

I was bemused to read an advertisement for pet products recently and to discover “vets recommend that daily tooth brushing is the best way to take care of your dog’s teeth”. I try to imagine brushing the teeth of any of the dogs I have known and my mind boggles at the thought.

Schatzi, the dachshund, would have eaten the toothbrush and Tarzan, the ridgeback, would certainly have bitten me.

I have read all Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book stories many times and can’t recall a single mention of Akela, the old grey wolf, brushing the teeth of the Seonee pack. But now, apparently, vets, recommend it. I wonder what pet recommendation will come next. Eye make-up for your bulldog? Mascara for your hamster? “Use Footso for healthy chickens and Kok-Up to add lustre to your rooster’s comb. Something to crow about.” Toothpaste for dogs? Hah!

Last Laugh

A man walked into a bar leading a small dog. The dog saw a piano in the corner, jumped up on the stool and started to play. He played cool jazz and a Johann Strauss waltz.

Suddenly the doors swung open and a large dog burst in, grabbed the little dog by the scruff of its neck and dragged it out of the bar. There was a shocked silence, then the barman said: “What was that all about? The dog was playing beautifully.”

“That was his mother,” said the owner of the little dog. “She wants him to be a doctor.”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus