Seagull V Dog

I have called Stanley Pleeber’s fear of dogs ‘irrational’: why then should I delve any further? What could one possibly hope to find? When poke comes to push comes to shove comes to a kick in a teeth, would I stand by my statement? The irrational should have no answers. Yet I cannot help looking for them.

Putting aside the possibility of there being a dark-dog-related-incident lurking like a wounded wolf in the reeds of Pleeber’s most peculiar past, let us wander instead into one of many other pastures, and posit the following question: how could a man who was terrified of terriers be so fond of everybody’s least favourite sandwich-grabbing scavanger-birds? I refer, of course, to the infamous seagull: terror of sunbathers everywhere, if not city-dwellers also (for seagulls, as we well know, have no sense of place these days, and simply will not consign themselves to purely littoral domains). I would, in truth, no sooner make friends with a seagull than a pitbull. Pleeber, however, was rather more forgiving on this front.

Was it, perhaps, a question of domesticity? Seagulls make poor pets. They are the vagrant type: life’s perennial outsiders. Dogs, on the other hand, only threaten wildness. All dogs are, so to speak, mongrels. They know not what they are. They are the ultimate in-betweeners. To say that Pleeber was fond of seagulls is to say that he respected them. He doffed his cap to them – but he never took them home to meet his mother. Seagulls clearly don’t belong in the home. Neither do dogs: but they will go on pretending they do. This is, as Pleeber might have said, a ‘sorry state of affairs’. And on this point I am ever so slightly inclined to agree with him…

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