Lindy McDowell: Lola’s life a shining example of how we should treat animals
Our Lola died recently. Lola the dog. If you're not a pet owner yourself you'll probably have rolled your eyes there. It's a dog - not exactly a family member, is it? But if you do have a pet you will understand. A dog is a family member.
Lola wasn't my dog. She belonged to our son Jamie and our daughter-in-law Lucy. Lola landed on her four paws when she ended up with them. Lucy in particular is the kindest, most loving girl on Earth.
Lola lived a life of dog luxury. And, it has to be said, she seemed to expect nothing less. If there is such a thing as dog royalty Lola was well up the ranking. There's a King Charles spaniel. There was also a Queen Lola spaniel.
And she took all the pampering as her due. She had a greater sense of entitlement than the Rich Kids of Instagram.
Dogs have their own distinct personalities. Some are bolshy, some are meek. Lola was a happy wee thing, although sometimes she huffed. She also tended a little towards laziness - a trait that, in fairness, I could identify with. Occasionally when you took her out for a walk she'd stop, press her four paws into the ground and just refuse to budge. All the while fixing you with a look that would curdle blood.
I'm vexed that she's died. Lucy is just broken-hearted. But the comfort is she had such a happy life. Lola won the dog lottery the day Lucy brought her home.
As human beings our relationship with the other beasts with whom we share this Earth is a complex one. We depend on them for food, and in some places labour. Some we treat as our best friends. Some we fear.
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What unites most of us, though, is revulsion at the thought of cruelty to animals. Which is why this week Blake Fischer (above), formerly of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, has made global headlines - something of an achievement given that there are few stories coming out of the US these days which don't contain the word Trump.
Mr Fischer has resigned from his wildlife role after news broke of a hunting trip to Namibia where he'd tracked down and killed an entire catalogue of spectacular creatures including baboons, a giraffe, a leopard, an impala and an antelope.
When I say the news broke of his killing spree... actually it was Fischer himself who spread the word. He'd posted pictures of the dead animals in an email which he then sent to around 100 people.
The pictures were accompanied by zippy captions such as "So I shot a whole family of baboons". This beneath an image of the poor things propped up against each other, the baby of the family bloodied from a gaping wound, with Fischer smirking above.
It's this picture which appears to have caused most public outrage.
But appalling as that is, worse still I think is the photograph of the dead giraffe. Why is it even legal to shoot a giraffe? Why would anyone want to shoot a giraffe? It's a large animal and as such hardly a difficult target. I could have hit it. Even from a marksmanship point of view, this wasn't something to boast about.
In a weirdly worded "apology" Fischer has expressed regret for not showing respect for the animals he'd "harvested". Harvested! A fitting verb there for this particular Grim Reaper.
And he's just the one we know about...
In 2018 big game hunting is still considered sport, attracting gun-toting tourists - Americans especially - to Africa to kill and then crow about their exploits.
And they say we humans are the highest form of animals?
Genes don't fit? Blame parents...
Science news... a report this week reveals that genetics play a major role in whether you will go to university. Being well-off also helps, I imagine. Anyway who is really going to be surprised by this 'revelation' that genes play a role in brain power?
I suppose the kids themselves could use it as a weapon to turn against nagging parents.
How can you be expected to do well in your A-levels when, through no fault of your own, you've already come up short in your DNA levels?
Man up, it’s just a change of name
Man-size tissues are finally out on their nose - cast aside by Kleenex which, in common with most corporate interests now, doesn't wish to be seen as sexist.
We all now accept that women also can be soft and strong. But something which appears to have been totally cast aside, however, is the notion that women are generally not so petty as to get themselves in a tizzy over everything and anything that includes the word 'man'.
It's just a box of big tissues. Dry your eyes.
Things won’t always be easy for favourite royals
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is expecting. So naturally, given the happy news, her current tour of Australia with husband Harry has been attracting even more media attention that it might otherwise have done.
From here on in she'll have to become accustomed to cameras focusing in on her abdomen aiming for that first pic of the baby bump.
And the royal pair do seem to be wowing the crowds Down Under. Like his mother before him, Harry is clever when it comes to working an audience. He gets on well with small children, which is always a big plus on these occasions.
Again, like Diana, he seems to have cornered the Nation's Favourite Royal title. Meghan's attire, meanwhile, is forensically analysed for us in gushing tabloid reports. Even Brexit gets less attention.
The other day she was photographed holding her mobile phone. Something which, one report solemnly told us, was a rare sight. Very few "senior royals" had ever previously been pictured with their iPhone. Which, when you think about it, is true.
Henry VIII certainly wasn't carrying his in any of his portraits.
On the one hand all this guff about the pair can be put down to just harmless hype. A bit of light relief from the some of the darker stories of the day.
But again, as with Diana, you can see where this could be headed.
For now the Sussexes seem to be enjoying all the attention. But the more popular they become... the even more popular they will become.
And that's not always easy to live with.