Our politics need more good dogs

Big dawg, little dawg ‒ Zeus and new kid on the block Leila. There’s plenty to go around and the Establishment and well-behaved disruptor share just fine.

Big dawg, little dawg ‒ Zeus and new kid on the block Leila. There’s plenty to go around and the Establishment and well-behaved disruptor share just fine.

Published May 5, 2024


Durban — We need more good dogs in our politics.

Life happens so fast these days you have to be agile, nimble and flexible (at least figuratively) to cope, keep up and fend off despair.

Agile and nimble don’t apply to the couch human and the old boy Zeus, but we’ve learnt enough to be nimbly flexible about some stuff without imploding into the slithery shifting we’re watching in the nation’s politics in the run-up to the polls.

The unlikely comparison of our body politic and the solid union in our pack came up with the introduction of a new kid on the block, causing utter chaos.

Leila, a four-month-old boerboel slash boxer, has joined the Greater Couch Pack and supposedly lives with her new people, the kids.

Right now, she’s learning her place in the hierarchy, but her boundless vitality sometimes makes her forget the rules and training can be exhausting for all the resident couchers.

She knows where home is, but really loves to hang out with the big dogs. If ever there was a disruptor, it is she.

Nothing, from wires to shoes to table legs to pants legs, is safe from those tiny needle-sharp teeth.

She even delivered a pack of four kitchen towels, bigger than she was, to granny’s back door while her mom was bringing in the groceries. Mostly intact.

It was one of the funniest sights we’ve seen.

She is cute, loving and unable to hide her intentions: as with all animals, her “honesty” is delightful and she punches well above her weight when she’s hogging a food bowl.

The only one who “owns” a bowl is Zeus.

We have six dogs and keep four large bowls filled up and happily shared throughout the day.

They love to steal from the big boy’s when he’s not eating, but when he is, they all know the rules and he’s very vociferous about being left alone.

They’re accepting of the young girl when she has her whole head in the dish, but for all other antics, a quick nip from the big ones puts her back in line.

The beauty of this arrangement is that they all have enough. None of the dogs are fat, greedy or take more than they need to be happy and healthy.

And they deliver on their promise of being beloved companions, cuddlers and keeping wannabe bad guys “discouraged”.

How I wish our dog-eat-dog politics worked in a similar fashion.

As the Establishment, we’re quite happy to growl at the younger interlopers who want to take our seats, but willingly shift up a bit to share and spread the love.

If the political establishment had done the same, and kept its ever-undelivered promise of a better life for all, its ankles would be far less vulnerable to the needle teeth of about 60% of the Saffer pack.

Side note: the couch is terrible at numbers so this estimate is loosely based on better-informed commentators and notoriously unreliable polls.

Most unfortunate in this metaphorical shaggy-dog story is that the alphas only rule with the pack’s support.

And the young pups learn their lessons through example.

Our young disruptors have been taught all the wrong lessons by the wrong people and have turned to biting that hand that used to feed them.

Everyone knows you can teach an old dog new tricks, but the requisite patience and skill have been lost, and the trick is a hard one: how to exit with dignity and not get your bum bitten on the way out.

All we can do is hope they’ve all had their rabies shots.

Independent on Saturday

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