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A puppy can be for life - and presidency

PUBLISHED: 09:47 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:47 05 July 2010

PROMISE in haste, repent at leisure, Mr Obama.

The US President-elect might be being lauded as the great hope, saviour of the world, even the second coming if you read some of the testaments to his expectations.

PROMISE in haste, repent at leisure, Mr Obama.

The US President-elect might be being lauded as the great hope, saviour of the world, even the second coming if you read some of the testaments to his expectations.

But he can't be that sharp - he's promised his girls a puppy for the White House. Jeez.

Predictably, the world has gone crazy about the promised pooch. Forget Afghanistan and Iraq. Everyone from Sydney to Sussex has something to say about his puppy policy. Almost seven million results popped up when I Googled “Obama puppy.”

The consensus is that he must be barking, excuse the irresistible pun.

Take it from one still immersed in puppy power 15 months since ours joined the family, bringing up a puppy is not for the feint-hearted, part-timers or the impatient.

The first weeks make a multiple birth and juggling triplets look appealing.

Read all the doggy books you like but nothing - and I mean nothing - can prepare you for the reality of life with an eight-week old puppy.

Babies are a doddle in comparison. They can't move for a start, buying you time to get used to them. They wear nappies and are containable. And you can take them to the supermarket.

A puppy is an incontinent whirlwind, chewing and mangling anything in its path. Just like a baby, it cries at night, demands constant attention and tries the patience of the most placid.

Babies nap soundly during the day. Puppies sleep with one eye and one ear open and know exactly when you leave them alone. And their bark is so much louder than any baby cry.

Parenting a puppy - I can't believe I've actually written that - takes over life for months. Forget work, a social life and any sense of normality. The puppy must be the focus.

Within days of our eight-week-old golden retriever's arrival he'd ripped my husband's brand new suit trousers to shreds, turned me into a sleep-deprived gibbering wreck by his nocturnal demands, destroyed two pairs of trainers, chewed the heel off the cleaner's boot, gnawed the kitchen table and chair legs, swung on the curtains and nearly strangled himself in the net of the garden football goal.

He'd terrified most of my sons' friends by his exuberant leaping and nipping and almost every item of clothes I wore was pierced or shredded by his razor sharp teeth. My hands and arms were so scratched by his gnashers I looked like I'd taken up self-harming.

A neighbour had dropped by to complain one night because of his incessant barking and I wondered if it was all worth it.

The thought of his canine cousin in the White House is a hoot - gnawing at priceless furniture, burying gifts from world leaders in the gardens, ripping the President's trousers, pulping Michelle's designer shoes and cocking his leg against dog-unfriendly Secretaries of State.

The girls might promise to look after him but a puppy is not childsplay. They take serious training, discipline and exercise. And cute little bundles grow into hulking great monsters.

Our Leo is 16 months old and he can still cause mayhem, as playful and destructive as the day he arrived, given half the chance.

The vet told me he might calm down by the time he's about three with more than a twinkle in his eye.

The President-elect of the world's leading superpower might think he's up to it.

He'll probably do what my husband and sons did - the ones clamouring for a puppy - and leave it all to the woman of the house.

But, of course, I wouldn't be without him - the loyalty and love of a soppy dog makes the world look brighter on the dullest of days.

But perhaps one of Barrack's wiser early decisions might be to adopt an older rescue mutt, especially if he values his trousers.

I'VE been giving thought to my funeral this week.

For more practical than morbid reasons. The cremation of a friend's father this week left me saddened by the rather impersonal conveyor-belt manner in which the dearly departed are despatched.

What should be an utmost personal event to remember a loved one, their achievements, their mark on the world too often bears little relation to the essence of the person lying in the coffin at the front of the church or crematorium.

I almost always leave funerals cross and cheated on behalf of the dead, feeling they deserved so much more to celebrate their remarkable lives when they drop off this mortal coil.

A fitting send-off to mark the impression they made on the people assembled.

A new trend is for colourful designer caskets, bringing a personal touch to funerals with bright images depicting the dead's hobbies, passions and life's work - a personalisation too far perhaps.

Note: I would not like mine decorated with a pen and a notebook or, the seven-year-old photo at the top of this page.

I just feel people deserve more than the quick in and out on offer today, that's all.

FOOTBALLERS are, on the whole, gormless oafs with the sense and sensitivity of an average uncut loaf.

We expect them to do daft things without thinking first because they think with their feet.

But Ipswich Town's David Norris' explanation - or rather non-explanation - for the infantile goal celebration gesture which caused such offence this week was risible.

His apparent handcuff gesture believed to be in support of his friend and former Luke McCormick, jailed last month for killing two small boys by drunk and dangerous driving in his powerful Land Rover, had been misinterpreted, he said.

Fined by his club in the wake of his alleged offensive and insulting gesture he told us we had got it all wrong. It was not in support of McCormick.

But, true to a footballer's form, he couldn't elaborate exactly why he had crossed his wrists and what the gesture was all about.

And why was that exactly?

Norris is supposed to have written to the grieving parents of Arron Peak, 10, and his brother, eight, killed by McCormick to apologise.

Can I suggest to any footballers considering “supporting” McCormick perhaps a more constructive use of their time and highly inflated wages would be to set up some sort of youth football foundation in memory of the two boys he killed.

And learn a bit of sensitivity and decorum, giving thought to the real victims of this, the boys and their poor parents.

SOME royals are fair game for bit of stick.

Prince Charles is one, his brothers and sons too. They set themselves up for criticism by demonstrating the worst excesses of privilege.

The Queen, however, is off limits, and as for the late Queen Mother - well, it's practically treason to voice anything less than glowing affection for the dear old Ma'am.

So BBC presenter Ed Stourton was ungallant and hideously crass by spilling the beans that the nation's favourite granny was a “ghastly old bigot”.

And to plug his new book too. How frightfully vulgar and self-serving.

To the Tower and off with his head.

PROUD to be British eh?

A new survey of what makes us British and defines our national character as a nation of moaning minnies who waste hours in queues, get drunk and take pleasure in others' misfortune.

Enough to make you slam the door, turn out the lights and hot foot it to another continent.

Nearly 60pc of the 5,000 adults asked felt our main trait was our obsession with talking about the weather. Getting plastered is in fifth place with moaning at number 10 and gossiping at number 12.

Apart from never complaining, a clever sense of humour, the ability to laugh at ourselves and being proud of where we live, our traits are a gloomy collection, including road rage, worrying about our weight and wanting a good tan.

No mention of big-hearted, caring, a strong sense of community, family values or welcoming newcomers that Britain once believed it was.

Perhaps we've travelled further in the past 50 years than we ever believed.

THE audience of the X-Factor is largely children and young teenagers.

They look to the performers and judges as role models.

This year a terrifying young woman who had her first baby at 14, has had several children taken into care, has served time in prison for drug offences and is, allegedly, a nightmare neighbour is among them.

Everyone deserves a second chance and, boy, is Rachel Hylton milking hers.

You'd hope that, given this chance, the mother of five would have some grace and humility.

But she's the most loud-mouthed, aggressive, sulky madame who yells if she doesn't get her own way.

When she didn't, she apparently “sacked” her mentor Dannii Minogue believing she knows best to go it alone. She's doing it for “her family,” she said. Would those be the children in or out of care?

She has, she says, a problem with authority figures.

That's just pathetic modern speak for anyone who doesn't like rules and refuses to toe the line.

What it really means is she's a stroppy headstrong rebel with an over-inflated sense of her own importance and ability that desperately needs the discipline she sticks two fingers up at.

She's a terrible example to young viewers about how to get on in life.

And Simon Cowell, shame on him, burbles on about how much he likes her as a person. What is there to like?

Get her out - although pity her poor neighbours who won't be a fraction as happy to have her back as we will be to see her go.

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