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Why do Berliners love dogs so much?

Jacinta Nandi on how she, an unabashed canine loather, was dragged into a filthy world of cross-species canoodling when she became a reluctant puggy godmother.

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What is it with people kissing their dogs on the mouth in this city, asks Jacinta Nandi? Photo: nrd / Unsplash 

I’ve always thought those people who really love their pets are slightly mad – all that money, all that effort, all that mouth-kissing – but NOBODY is crazier than a Berliner single mum who adopted a pug during lockdown.

“Please cuddle Orphelia,” my friend Marisa whispers melodramatically to me at the park. “I really want you two to like each other.” She promptly hands me something that looks like a slightly obese guinea pig, only it has been wiggled into a dog collar. The dog blinks at me. She slobbers. I hand her back to Marisa as soon as possible. I don’t want to get dog slobber on me.

“Are you sure this is a real dog?” I ask politely. “She seems a tiny bit… rodenty?”

“She’s a total princess,” Marisa says happily. “You can kiss her on the mouth if you want to. She doesn’t have corona. Probably.”

As I politely decline, Orphelia looks at me: bemused, indifferent, superior. She really is super sweet, in a snobby, slightly obese guinea pig kind of way.

“Anyway, I’ve made you godmother,” Marisa announces airily.

“Don’t people normally have to consent to becoming pugs’ godmothers?” I ask.

“It’s a real honour for you, actually,” she explains. “Orphelia only has, like, 20 other godparents. And it’ll do your kids good, hanging out with her. My sociopathic kids are, like, 27 percent less sociopathic now they have a dog to look after. And plus, if you kiss her on the mouth, it’s really good for your immune system. Look, let me show you.”

AAARGH! So now, I, Jacinta Nandi – someone who hates dogs (with their disgusting dog poo which will probably make your kid go blind) even more than she hates cats (I dunno, I just hate them?) – have accidentally become a pug godmother. Some people achieve pug godmother status, others have it thrust upon them at the park.

I officially HATE dogs. I hate the Kampfhund ones, and find the little, yappy ones annoying. I hate the way they whine at you and bark and then, if you’re on your period, they start humping your leg and sniffing your Muschi.

AND NOW THE ENTIRE CITY ADOPTED A DOG OVER LOCKDOWN. Like, is there anyone left in Berlin without a dog? My friend Simon broke lockdown rules and went to Poland to adopt a half- wolf. My friend Tanja got herself a Mischling from the Tierheim. And all the single mums bought pugs or some genetically modified monstrosity with a weird oversized head wobbling away on its tiny body.

What I hate about dogs more than all the shit and the barking is all the fuss. WHY DO BERLINERS LOVE DOGS SO MUCH? Berlin, a city that is so unfriendly you get confused when people from out-of-town ask you what your next-door neighbour’s name is (WHY WOULD I KNOW THAT? I’M NOT PSYCHIC), is also a city that loves dogs as much as it hates babies.

Have you ever gone to a party with a baby? People act like you’re just doing it to spite them. But turn up with a dog and it’s FIIIIIINE. The most unbearably trendy hipsters and ridiculously hard punks are cooing and gushing and swooning and basically orgasming – you even see posh people getting down on all fours to join in the doggy mayhem like they’re the canine version of Mowgli.

The only people who know their neighbours are dog owners. Sparking up conversation in the park with a stranger is almost impossible – unless you have a furry friend with you, trying to lick said stranger’s own furry friend’s arsehole out. Some Germans don’t even know you’re actually allowed to talk to anyone you meet, even if they’re not a relative. But it is exactly these people who will stop on the street to chat with fellow dog walkers and have those ridiculous doggie conversations. I don’t know what they talk about, I kind of zone out: dog names, age, diet, expensive operations, the best vet in town, allergies. I don’t actually think mums in Berlin are helicopter parents – but I know a few helicopter dog owners.

Oh well, if you can’t beat them, join them, as the saying goes. I’ll be at the dog park with my darling godchild this weekend. If you see me, come over and say hi. Mouth-kissing with the pug is optional.