Belfast Telegraph

Dating for dogs ... they have got to be barking!

By Frances Burscough

As a columnist, I’ve commented on some quite bizarre stories over the years. Readers often ask me how do I manage to come up with new ideas week after week.

My secret is to keep a scrapbook of stories and to update it whenever I see something out of the ordinary, or which strikes a chord connecting it with a story from my own life.

This used to mean quite literally cutting things out from papers, glossies, leaflets and flyers, using the scissors and Pritt stick I keep in my handbag.

Now, in the digital age, it’s simpler. I do most of my research on the internet, from online news pages, webcasts, blogs and social networking sites, then simply click on anything that interests me to add it to my Windows “Bookmark” files. It’s all there when I log on, in chronological order, under different headings, which are also cross-referenced and listed in alphabetical order according to title and subject matter.

And the headlines alone make fascinating reading ...

Post-op transgender man gives birth; pants that add inches to a man's ‘frontal measurement'; Nasa finds evidence of 1,200 MORE planets; Pope John Paul II cured nun from beyond grave; would YOU have a bum-uplift?

Even the categories themselves speak volumes. For example, my Celeb Cosmetics file has a number of sub-headings. Trout Pout — Leslie Ash; Katie Price (see also boobs/implant; boobs/ reduction; Tango tan; Falsies; hair extensions; piercings; tattoos); Trinny off Trinny & Susannah (see also big knickers; flat chests; mutton dressed as lamb).

Wrecked septum — Daniella W; Kerry K (see also: TVs most annoying celebs; yo-yo dieting; embarrassing TV interviews); Tara P-T (see also posh totty; flat chests; embarrassing TV Interviews). You get the idea.

But out of all headings and sub-headings that make up my personal encyclopaedia, there is one subject I return to over and over again having unearthed some truly ridiculous stories over the course of these pages — the timeless hot-potato of the Pampered Pooch. As a dog owner myself, I find the way some people treat their pets to be one of the most fascinating and funny subjects for a spot of column comedy.

First, there was the growing trend in Hollywood for dog beauty parlours where over-rich celebrities get their mutt’s teeth whitened, hair straightened and claws painted with nail polish before popping them into a Prada doggie bag for their next paparazzi appearance.

Then the phrase “Doggy Style” took on a whole new meaning when fashionistas from across the world converged on New York City for the beginning of Pet Fashion Week. On the catwalk (dog-walk??) canine models wearing ensembles including shoes, frocks and wigs sashayed up and down, stopping only to sniff each other’s bums or wee on the stage props.

Then came the new trend where ridiculously-rich residents of LA started throwing lavish parties for their dogs. Pamela Anderson and pop princess Pink were at the forefront of the pooch party planning circle. The Baywatch babe recently threw a dog wedding reception for her two puppies on Malibu beach. While 20 showbiz guests and their pets looked on, the loving couple exchanged vows before being showered with doggy-chew confetti.

So it really came as no surprise when I read in this week’s Belfast Telegraph of a new service being offered to the posh and picky owners of pedigree dogs. Yes, you guessed it — a “Doggie dating” site where owners can match-make their pets (and, ideally get them knocked-up) with a suitable, well-bred partner.

For a fee, of course.

Since I’ve already plenty of animals running amok around my house I’ll pass on that service, but that hasn’t stopped me from imagining what their dating profiles might look like.

Alas, I’ve now run out of space, so I’ll file this story away under “Pimp My Pooch” until next week...

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