Guy James Whitworth believes the best people are dogs and explains why some Sydneysiders deserve a bite on the bum.
Sydneysiders are mean. Well, half of them are anyway!
And you know where that dividing line sits? Right down the middle of my adorable little doggie! Dog ownership in this city is at an all-time high, but you know, some people just aren’t fans of our furry, four-legged friends.
For the past year-and-a-half, my partner and I have been lucky to share our existence with the cute-as-a-button but scruffy-as-all-fuck Matey boy. They say a dog will change you – but it’s my opinion of Sydneysiders that has changed the most.
Matey is an absolute joy with people, he loves everyone and regularly runs up to people in the street for no reason than to just say hi with his little stumpy tail wagging itself silly. He’s one of those dogs that seem to always be smiling – although it’s worth pointing out he has a freaky little underbite, and teeth not even an English dentist could love, so that’s a double edged (or rather snaggle-toothed) sword.
I could spend hours bathing him, floofing him up and making him presentable but, as if by some hell-sent curse, when I turn my back for two seconds the lil’ scruffpot will be all dishevelled and looking like he just ran backwards through a scrapyard in a thunderstorm. Some days I’m convinced he’s half raccoon or half Gremlin.
He is an older rescue dog and we happen to know he’s a bit of a repeat offender. He’s been in the pound a few times already and it isn’t hard to see why. A disappointingly large proportion of the people who aren’t friendly towards Matey are also dog owners (generally those who have bought the dog from a breeder) and they don’t have time for my adorably defective doggie. (Please, never buy any animal, please always adopt!)
My dog is awesome with people but dreadful with other dogs. He has a few nicks out of his furry little ears and we think he may have been attacked previously, hence the high anxiety. Whenever he sees other dogs in the street, reactions rage from mild anxious whining to loudly barking the entire neighbourhood down!
Matey’s nervousness lessens somewhat if we walk him through a regular route around where we live. Now, this happens to be around Taylor Square, and I understand people are busy and need to be somewhere, but come on, lighten up!
Yes, my dog is totally bonkers, but considering the other post-Covid/lockdown release horrors I’ve witnessed in Darlinghurst of late, an anxious dog is the least of anyone’s worries.
We have him on anti-anxiety medication and have (at great expense we cannot afford, let me tell you) employed the services of a dog behaviorist, who is doing her best, alongside us, to rehabilitate the little rascal (at least when she’s not sitting on piles of our money and laughing maniacally, I would imagine). We’re getting there, I think, bit by bit, bark by bark.
Matey is, unfortunately, a ‘pully’ dog who tries to yank ahead on his leash. It’s annoying, sure, but honestly, I’ve lost count of the people who clutch their pearls and look away with abhorrence. For the love of dogs, people, we just got (touch wood) through a global pandemic – why not crack a smile?
And yes, to add to the spectacle, I sing songs to my anxious dog, so he knows I’m here trotting along behind him. This means that more often than not that I appear slightly deranged, speed mincing and badly singing out of breath to my dog, but do I care what I look like? No. Should you care? Doubly no!
Songs I sing include self-penned bangers such as ‘Matey, you’re a stinker and you’ve got a stinky clinker’ (his personal favourite); the catchy ‘Ohh, you like the treatsies and you’ve got cute lil’ feetsies’; and the global smash ‘Matey boy, Matey boy, what do you do? Why am I always picking up your poo?’
There is a game we play called ‘The Bouncy-Bouncy Game’ where I throw small dry biscuits on the tiled communal terrace of our apartment building and Matey tries to catch/eat/chase/destroy them as they go bouncing off. Such tasty excitement! Who knows where they’ll bounce next?
Recently, on an early walk, I tried to soothingly coax Matey out of his morning meltdown. As I did this, a woman walked out of a nearby apartment just in time to hear me say the words: “You are such a good boy, when we get home, we are going to play the Bouncy-Bouncy game for hours,” while lovingly stroking his head.
This woman threw a look my way that was both appalled and disgusted. What did she think I meant? Just remember lady, there’s no such thing as dirty words, only dirty minds.
Jokes aside, Sydney should be the perfect city to have a dog; there are so many awesome spaces to walk a dog such as those listed here. Dog owners are usually an awesome and friendly bunch, and normally happy to have a wee chat while out on wee walks. Let’s all try to make Sydney a happier city and less judgmental place to have a four-legged (and slightly manic) friend.
Hell, even when I see someone walk a dog and that dog is nowhere as freakin’ adorable as Matey, I’ll give a smile –although, I grant you, it’s normally to the dog.
Guy James Whitworth is a Sydney-based artist, author and full-time dog poop picker-upper. His book, Signs of a Struggle – is available from The Bookshop Darlinghurst and good bookshops everywhere. He can be followed on Instagram and Twitter.