Educating Geoffrey – Tatler
Do I know my name? Of course I do – I am Geoffrey, named after Geoffrey of Monmouth,
the famously literary priest who basically invented King Arthur. I may be small in stature, but
I am huge in impact. ‘Yappy?’ you ask. YAPPY? I have the bark of an Alsatian on a
particularly baritone day. Do I sit when told to? Obviously. I’m not an idiot. I jump up
occasionally and rest my paws on my human’s legs, but that’s only when I’m excited and
want to have a bit of a gossip.
Frankly, I’m offended. If anyone needs rules and boundaries, it’s my human. She’s so
feeble. She makes it too easy. She lets me sleep on her bed and I only have to do one
moronic handshaking trick for a positive torrent of chicken-flavoured treats to rain down
upon my head.
Recently, she’s been muttering about routine. She might even have called me a brat
the other day. But I must have heard that wrong. She would never call me a brat. I am
original and she is obsessed with me and I am her little love bundle.
So, truth be told, I smell a rat when I find myself crunching down a Welsh driveway. I
am a Clapham hound, an urban beast, and I do not like wide open spaces. They make me
feel small when, clearly, I am a phenomenon.
Apparently, though, all the best humans, from moguls to viscounts to Felicity
Kendal, send their dogs here – to The Dog House, run by Mark and Gillian Thompson. (There
are helicopter coordinates on the website, if your human has one of those; personally I am
not a fan.)
Some dogs come for training (it seems I can’t be a gundog because I am smaller
than most pheasants, they say. I am MIGHTY. They just do not listen), while others just
come for a bit of a spa break. The kennels have underfloor heating and relaxing classical
music piped into them, and the special dog food served here is made by Michel Roux, I bet
they don’t have ostrich-and-cherry-flavoured dog biscuits at Club 55.
Twenty years ago, Mark was a dog trainer in London and could often be spotted
walking a pack of 30 dogs, all trotting obediently behind him, the Pied Piper of Wimbledon
Common, if you will. Then he met Gillian and they bought this patch of Welsh farmland and
created a canine haven. Now it can accommodate up to 45 dogs, and, apart from our luxury
kennel suites, there is an assault course, a grooming centre, a training hall and several fields
full of other things that I have never seen in Clapham and look like big fluffy dogs but are in
fact called sheep. Who knew? Plus, dozens of maddeningly enticing birds – ducks, geese,
guinea fowl and a few extraordinary creatures called peacocks, which have big blue tails
that explode whenever I go near them.
I made some friends. The other dogs are quite U, to be honest. There’s a giant beast
that I think might be a horse and weighs 160 pounds – but it is actually a Great Dane called
Watson. There’s Ozzy a golden Labrador from Fulham. And I quite fancy Milly, a terribly
sweet faced brown and white bull mastiff. But she doesn’t pay me much attention. There’s
nothing wrong with short men ladies. We try harder.
I have my coat washed with hypoallergenic shampoo, my teeth and paws are
inspected, my ears are cleaned and my anal glands checked (this happened before – I’m
undecided as whether it’s fun or not). All dogs are given behaviour report and mine says I’m
generally excellent but that my human needs to keep up certain rules at home. ‘Geoffrey
seems to be a very laidback little fellow with a big personality’ it concludes. Honestly, It’s
just like being at Eton.