Fido's Funeral

Her Majesty the Queen, God Bless Her, loves dogs. In point of fact she may well love dogs better than her own subjects, however loyal we are.

You should not be surprised at this revelation. Here in England, everyone believes that dogs are special. The sight of a wet nose and a wagging tail makes us all very happy.

Her Majesty keeps corgis. The corgi is a compact creature with a foul temper and a propensity for unprovoked and vicious assault. But when a Royal corgi finally heads off up to cock its legs against heaven's fire-hydrants, Her Majesty will shed several tears and then spend a great deal of money getting the nation's finest masons to chip out tasteful headstones.

This is not unusual. You don't have to be a member of the British Royal Family to go completely soppy when little Rover snuffs it. A hundred and thirty six thousand full blown doggy funerals are held here every year - with tiny canine caskets and full scale ceremonials at the graveside.

The northern county of Yorkshire prefers to commit dead dogs to the cremators and scatter the ashes. But public poetry readings are commonplace, renditions of your pet's favourite hymns abound, and there are clerics of all persuasions prepared to do the last rites on Fido's final journey.

Dog owners in Scotland apparently spend the most. This is a particularly surprising fact because the Scots have a worldwide reputation for being rather careful with their cash. But not when it comes to grand finales for four-legged friends. Eighteen per cent of Scottish dog owners commission the most expensive artists to create sculptures, murals and elaborate canvasses in lasting memory of their passed away pooches.

In the cruder extremities of this island, the North East and the far South West, a high percentage of bereaved British dog lovers call in the local taxidermist to put their deceased pets back on their feet again - they literally get stuffed.

And the sense of grief extends into the bastions of British officialdom too. After all, the death of a beloved pet can affect student composure during important academic examinations. So if Poppy the poodle keels over and points paws to the sky on exam day, the examiners will now award your child an extra two percentage points just to compensate for the appalling trauma.

Its enough to make you cry. Or bark. Or both.
by Ed Boyle