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Gone to the Dogs

I have a confession to make. My name is Scott Andrews and I am a canine addict.

Since I was a child I have found dogs to be almost mystical. The hours I have spent, staring in wonderment at an animal whose sole reason to exist appears to be to satisfy us, is beyond compare. As a teenager I was as awkward as they come. I often hid myself behind a straggly beard in a bid to become invisible. That all changed the day Bracken walked into my life. From that moment on, everywhere I went people wanted to talk to me because of this beautiful Border Collie that accompanied me everywhere. Suddenly that ethereal, improbable species – the human girl – wanted to talk to me, wanted to go for walks with me, and mostly just wanted to spend time with my dog. This Border Collie, an extraordinary black and white beast, led me from my social anxiety and showed me that there was a different way to live.

As the years passed by and I crossed continents that longing for another dog to fill the hole that Bracken left never disappeared. It was not until some years later that I found myself sitting on the floor of a house in the middle of nowhere, in a Polish village with a name entirely made of consonants, when a stout-looking Scottish Terrier climbed onto my lap. It was a behaviour he only repeated twice to date, and it was a moment when I knew my life was set to change. Unsurprisingly, a Border Collie was no preparation for a Scottish Terrier. They were chalk and cheese. The sense of responsibility overwhelmed me. I had adopted a dog that had never left his house, never met a strange dog, had never been for a walk and was properly suffering from agoraphobia. I felt completely insufficient and utterly terrified and fell back to the only thing that I knew: I read. I read like I had never read before. I devoured book after book after book about dogs. I searched the internet in a desperate bid to find the answer, the key which would help my dog better understand the world he was living in.

Much like every addict, soon enough the books weren’t enough. I started studying course, course after course after course. I collected certificates like a Premier League footballer collects STDs. I became a qualified instructor and dog handler. And I read more books. I got certificates in canine aggression and more instructor skills. And read more. And then I got more dogs. I studied canine evolution and canine cognition. I can now say that I have a qualification from Duke University in the Grand ole’ USA. And then I gained more dogs. And I read even more books, and more studies and filled my brain to the point that I now needed to let out some of the pressure from time to time to prevent my head from exploding.

Did I find the answer? Of course not. What I did learn is the golden truth of dog ownership: we will never feel sufficient. It is an impossible deal. Dogs offer us unconditional love, judgement free companionship and a miraculous, quite improbable sense of joy. We offer belly rubs, walks in the rain, and on occasion, a lovely treat. They are getting the bum deal and always will. Quite frankly, we have no chance of ever being able to pay it back.

I have learned one other thing. I am now every dog owner’s living nightmare. I am the stranger in the dirty anorak and unshaven chin that comes over to stroke your dog and gives you a three hour lecture about canine studies into developmental delay in adolescence, and what it means to left handed dog owners teaching their right pawed dogs to fetch. I am a professional dog bore and I cannot get enough. I have this enormous love of dogs that drives me to keep learning in the hope that I can be the best canine care giver that I can and until recently I haven’t had an outlet for it.

When the opportunity to embrace my inner canine nerd and record a podcast came up I felt it was too good to turn down. Normally when I talk to people about dogs they say ‘leave me alone, I’m going to call the police’. I am able to trap someone in a room and they voluntarily talk to me about dogs. They don’t try to run away. They don’t even scream. They actually ask questions and seem interested.

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce the pilot episode of the podcast ‘Talk2ThePaw’ featuring me as the canine nerd, and the magnificent Caroline Bartley on broadcasting duties. By all means have a listen and let me know what you think.

Episode 4 Talk2ThePaw

In this episode, we discuss a UK High Court ruling regarding dog bites, a new study on Labradoodles, a beer for dogs, and we celebrate another truly remarkable Wagtastic Woof.If your dog bites someone and you are not at home, are you responsible? In The Twilight Bark we discuss a new ruling in the UK High Court, introduced following an incident where a postal worker lost part of a finger. The ramifications for dog owners and dogs could be huge.In the Doggler Effect we ponder one of life’s great questions – what do you get if you cross a Labrador and a Poodle? The answer may not be as obvious as you might think. A U.S. study has revealed the secrets hidden in Labradoodles’ DNA. Are they really the dog that we have been led to believe?Fancy a brew? A major US brewery has launched a new doggy beer. Will it leave your hound licking its lips or is it just another example of our continued attempts to anthropomorphize our pooches?And finally, this episode’s Wagtastic Woof is the ultimate surrogate mum. Tune in to find out more.
  1. Episode 4
  2. Episode 3
  3. Episode 2
  4. Pilot

The Self-Isolation Blues

We have reached an awkward time in our great nation’s history where the vast majority of us are trapped at home desperately trying to find a way to avoid all of those jobs we have promised our spouses and ourselves that we were going to complete whilst knowing deep down that we had more intention of riding downhill sitting on a cactus in a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel over speed humps.

I, like the rest of you, have a list of things I should be getting on with which are not procrastination, and like you I am completely failing.  Therefore in the name of doing as little as possible, I have made all the wonderful stories I have published free on Smashwords as part of the author gives back sale.  The aim of the sale is as it says in the title, to give back.  If our stories offer a sense of distraction, maybe the odd snicker, or provoke some form of cognitive function then we will be doing our bit to fight the self-isolation blues and hopefully offer some comfort in the darkest of times.

Thus all that is left to say is go forth my friends, stay indoors and take care of everyone that you love.  To download the 47th best collection of stories written by someone named Scott Andrews, click here.

Till next time.

An Anthem for Coronavirus

As coronavirus sweeps the world and people run out panic buying toilet paper for an illness that will make them cough and not shit, I have largely been watching on with some bemusement.  The widescale paranoia and the complete selfishness makes me wonder if we do not actually deserve it.  I am old enough to remember a different world.  My Grandparents, only two generations removed from me, survived a war by coming together and helping their neighbors, and here we are 75 years on, in an age when grown adults have fistfights over toilet rolls.  Something somewhere has gone badly wrong in the evolution of humanity, and what made us great and unique has fallen away and left behind a more primitive way of thinking.  The truth is that if people genuinely did care about each other they would be looking out for the vulnerable members of our society rather than themselves.

After eight years, Existence Is Futile has finally gone out of print circulation.  It is a decision I have not taken lightly.  It will continue to be available as an ebook.  In the meantime, I am considering a second edition in the future, for the simple reason that I love the story and it would give me an opportunity to honor it in the way Professor Henry Tomlinson deserves.

I hope to be publishing a concept book later in the year.  I know that normally someone should write at least five books before they disappear far enough up their own arseholes before trying to share some self-indulgent nonsense, however, I have decided to jump ahead and do something that pleases me for the simple reason that life is short and we will all be dead soon.

My former band YU recently released a new music video entitled ‘Bang Bang’.  By all means, take a look here,

Speaking of YU, the singer Kuba was recently on a television show in Poland.  As always, he was delightfully eccentric and made quite an unexpected choice of song…

Just the other day I was idling between the news on television with its constant sense of impending death whilst scrolling through Twitter and reading about the forthcoming apocalypse when it occurred to me that I had likely written the perfect anthem for the coronavirus epidemic some years ago.  It is poignant, accurate, and holds a poetic truth.  Enjoy.

Until next time.

 

 

 

For the Many

For the past few days, my conscience and I have been engaged in a wrestling match.  The infamous poem by Martin Niemoller has been echoing through the chambers of my mind.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

With less than 48 hours to go before the United Kingdom elects a new Prime Minister, we are sitting at a crossroads not seen since the 1930s.  I will leave anti-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz to set the scene:

It is a thought that had occurred to me previously.  In a time when people are struggling why not promise the world?  It allows you to gloss over the murkier details of your own plans.  And that is the saddest of realities that have brought me to this moment.

As I watch many friends and acquaintances fall in the love with the idea of receiving free stuff in lieu of their morals, it hastens me to wonder why.  Countless times I have asked myself whether it is only me that believes that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are anti-Semitic?  Surely the fact that in the twelve years since the Equality and Human Rights Commission was formed, only two political parties have ever been investigated for racism – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the BNP. That speaks volumes.  But that’s just a report, right?  Well, what about this collection of 125 anti-semitic examples of elected Labour officials?  But that’s just a few (125) bad apples. Where is the actual evidence?  Well, here it is, in a painstakingly researched article by Sara Gibbs.  But it’s just you, nobody else thinks that.  Aside from John LeCarre, Fay Weldon, Joanna Lumley, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Antony Beevor, Sathnam Sanghera, Janina Ramirez, Trevor Phillips, Jimmy Wales, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tom Holland, Frederick Forsyth, Peter Frankopan, Ghanem Nuseibeh, Dan Snow, Fiyaz Mughal, Tony Parsons, Dan Jones, Maajid Nawaz, Oz Katerji, Nick Hewer, Ed Husain, and Terry Jervis.

So why does it matter to me?  Personally.  It is a question so elemental it should not need to be asked.  It is 2019 and we have reached the point where over half of the Jewish people in the UK, approximately 120,000 human beings, are seriously considering leaving the country, depending on Thursday’s vote.  It would be the largest exodus from our shores since King Edward I’s Edict of Expulsion in 1290.  From a human perspective, it is vile that in the present day so many people would feel unsafe amongst us.  The second reason is that I have lived in a society where anti-Semitism was omnipresent.  I spent a decade in Poland where inexplicable hatred and assignments of blame to Jews was commonplace.  The seething resentment often manifested itself in acts of aggression and sometimes violence for the simple reason that when the governing party was of an anti-Semitic mind, it affected social behaviours as it raised the barrier of common decency which used to prevent people from acting in such repulsive ways.  And finally, and most personally,  I am of Jewish ancestry.  Somewhere down the lines of time, it is possible that my ancestors had to flee.  Perhaps they lived in fear.  Perhaps they too were marginalized, hated, persecuted just for the mere fact of what they believed in.  Had things turned out differently, it could quite easily have been me.

Anti-Semitism does not begin with violence.  It begins with words.  Isolation.  Marginalization.  Gradually the norms of society change, and the gates that keep us safe from the worst of the world disappear.  It can become violence.  It can become assault.  It can become murder.  If some of us do not choose to stand guard at these gates we run the risk of making the very same mistakes that we claim to have learned from.  I am not asking you to vote Conservative.  I am asking you not to vote Labour. A vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party is a vote that says that the hatred of the Jewish race is fine by you.

I’ll leave you with a final thought from some people who know a little more than me about anti-Semitism.  Thanks for reading.