Two men in suits turned up at the house unannounced. I would have mistaken them for Mormons had it not been for the dark glasses, and the black SUV with the tinted windows. The pair exuded menace and clean-cut sincerity in equal measure and had me spooked within minutes. Pete skulked in the back yard while they spoke in sober tones about the clear and present danger which the fox terrier posed to world order.
I don’t want to be the one to jeopardise this costly entente cordiale by de-establishing my own anti-terrierist programme.
On the other hand, since I have been eating a Paleo diet, I and my Fox Terrier Pete (the subject of the detainment and surveillance) have grown very close. We now share far more than an interest in long walks and lying about on couches. We have formed a very deep bond through our shared interest in eating plenty of meat and gnawing on bones.
Pete’s browsing history was clearly innocent and aspirational at first. For example, he watched Wishbone in which an intelligent and witty dog imagines himself as characters from classic works of literature, and Miracle Dogs Too which stars two cocker spaniels with magical healing powers. He went on to watch Marley and Me - The Puppy Years, in which the eponymous dog-hero Marley outsmarts all the other dogs while winning human hearts and minds.
In no time at all however, Pete was lapping up movies with darker themes including 1001 Dalmatians in which an animal gang exacts revenge on a woman who’s kidnapping puppies for their fur, and Hounded a movie in which a cute little dog morphs into a nightmare beast and persecutes a perfectly nice teenager.
The U.S. Bureau of Counterterrierism got in touch as soon as Pete watched First Dog, a film about a young boy who befriends a lost pooch which turns out to belong to the President of the United States. The Bureau convinced me that this indicated a disturbing and terrierist trend in Pete’s movie viewing, especially when they discovered that he’d also been visiting animal rights and anti-vivisection websites. The Bureau considered its suspicions confirmed when they discovered that Pete had been Googling terms like “running dog”, “attack dog politics” and “dogs of war” or proverbs and quotes such as “He who lies down with dogs, rises with fleas” or “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”.
Privately, I thought that Pete’s interest in the role of animals in human affairs, and the use of canine metaphor and idiom in the English language was entirely understandable. However inconvenient it might be to me his live-in companion, he seemed merely an intelligent animal who had been freed by technology to learn, think and act independently.
However the Bureau had other ideas. When two men in suits turned up at the house unannounced, I’d have mistaken them for Mormons had it not been for the dark glasses, and the black SUV with the tinted windows. Pete skulked in the back yard while the representatives of the Bureau spoke in sober tones about the clear and present danger which he posed to world order. The pair exuded menace and clean-cut sincerity in equal measure and had me spooked within minutes. I capitulated to their argument when one of them helped himself to a freshly-baked Paleo cracker cooling on the bench: his jacket fell open and I glimpsed a pistol holstered in his armpit.
And so I let myself be persuaded to curtail the freedom of another living creature – a paragon of love and faithfulness - and who wants only to go about his peculiar doggy business unhindered. This is where my ethical nightmare began.
I allowed the Bureau to set up its surveillance equipment around the house. I agreed to regular clandestine meetings with an undercover operative to report on Pete’s entirely innocent preoccupations with cats and lamp-posts. I even agreed to enrol in the Bureau’s “Anti-terrierism Assistance Programme” which involves endless multiple choice questionnaires on bomb detection, legal forms of torture and the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
After a year of this paranoia and spying in my own backyard, I was ready to tear out the CCTV and the bugging equipment. But just as I was about to declare myself a refusenik, New Zealand got voted onto the Security Council. Now, rather than put my nation’s expensively-won honour at risk, I’m going to have to defer my grand gesture until after our term on the Council.
Until then, I may as well exploit what I’ve learned about terrierism and international diplomacy to get a bit of action from the plumber who lives down my right of way. He’s been promising with genial sincerity to fix my taps for weeks now, but he never quite gets around to it.
Last week I went to his workshop to complain about his erratic time-keeping. I discovered him with a couple of shady accomplices, building a large metal object with a pointy end. Armed with this information, my pals with the dark glasses and the black SUV should be able to persuade the plumber to fix my taps quick smart. Or else.