Can you arrest someone for dressing their dog inappropriately?
It appears, in Britain, you can. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) sent a warning volley out through the Daily Mail some time ago now: after Harrods hosted its annual doggy dressy extravaganza Pet A Porter.
The exclusive Knightsbridge department store sets up a DogWalk once a year: not a romp round the London streets, but a long white platform where dogs can parade the wares available for our four-legged best friends to wear.
The year the RSPCA trumpeted was 2009: the same year a chihuahua made the long walk in front of adoring pooch lovers dressed as a Vivienne Westwood bride, dripping in sparkly gems; and another dog swashbuckled along the dogwalk as a pirate.
The RSPCA was outraged.
Dorset RSPCA spokeswoman Jo Barr told the Mail: “Dog owners should be aware that under the Animal Welfare Act that came into force in April 2007 they have a duty of care to ensure that all of their pets’ needs are met.
“One of those needs is to express normal behaviour and it could mean that with restrictive clothing they are not able to do that properly.
She added: “We’re concerned that any pet should be viewed as a fashion accessory.”
Pet A Porter continues to run. Some people just like to dress their pets.
And if I’m honest, my husband is one of them.
Not like Vivienne Westwood. Don’t get me wrong. But I do remember Phil eyeing up a Sherlock Holmes outfit complete with deerstalker hat for Macaulay. And let us not forget that when I came home after a major operation, my most high-profile treat was meeting the dog, dressed in a small tie which had once been Felix’s.
And even I have caught myself looking at black doggie coats labelled “security” with a gleam in my eye. It is only a short step from there to Reservoir Dogs shades.
Now Phil is making tie noises once more. I am not keen, and nor, I am quite sure, will the dog be. When you put a garment on the dog he is, to all intents and purposes, the embodiment of chagrin. He will not meet your eyes: he slinks off into dark corners. One catches him attempting to remove the garment in whatever way he thinks necessary.
And so we have laid off the whole couture business. The RSPCA will be delighted, I feel sure.
But how will it feel about the alternative practices which have crept into our lifestyle: highly unorthodox details which will confound you all and yet leave the dog happy and contented?
Each night, the dog is tucked up in a pair of big baggy underpants. As a blanket , you understand, not as a garment; well-worn jersey of the softest calibre – but pants, mark you. Pants.
And in the last two weeks or so, the most insidious touch of all: from some party somewhere, in some bag or other, Felix came home with a blue plastic revolver.
It has lain dormant for a while: but now, it has come to light in an unusual setting.
The dog sleeps with it under his pillow.
I am not sure who instigated the whole business: but as I type, there it sits, under the cushion, ready to squirt all enemies with water and vanquish them utterly. The GodDoggie of them all.
Now: what have you got to say about that, RSPCA?