I’VE I’ve had my dug, Timmy, for about three years now. He’s a smashing wee dug, he really is but he’s an also absolute nightmare and it’s no wonder he had three or four different owners who couldn’t handle him before I became stuck with him.

He’s part cairn terrier and part yorkie. According to a website I found as I became desperate to try anything to stop him from barking all the time, those are two of the top five “yappy” dogs in the world.

Combine those two kinds of dugs into this loud little abomination I now share a flat with and it’s easy to see why I’ve got so many grey hairs while I’m still in my twenties.

His breath is always honking. Especially in the morning when he likes to sit on my chest and stare at me, breathing his putrid odour all over my face until I wake up. He just loves smelling horrible. There’s been times at the park when I let him off the lead and he’ll disappear into the trees. When he comes back out a few minutes later, he’ll have a big brown smear down the side of his body.

Matter of unknown origin matted into his fur and a massive smile on his face. If the smell of death could be assembled into a physical form it would be in the shape of this dug after a day out.

Apart from how loud he is and how he likes to stink, he’s also quite weird. He stares a lot. Just sits and stares, his eyes boring into my soul with such intensity that sometimes I’m compelled to snap at him and go, “Wit is it?!” He just keeps staring in response. If I get the hoover out he goes bananas, a normal thing for a dug to do. But he does this for a minute or so then runs and eats whatever’s in his bowl while growling, as if he thinks the reason I’ve got the hoover out is to suck up his dinner. After I’ve made the bed in the morning he likes to climb between the pillows, one on top of him and one underneath, and lie like a smelly wee slice of corned beef in a piece. Before my old dug, a staffy called Henry, died, the two of them would carry on and play fight. Timmy would bite at his ankles, bringing Henry to his knees, like David versus Goliath, then he’d just… sit on his heid. Like a trophy hunter posing with an elephant.

Once, on a walk, a wee lassie pointed at him and said, “Nice wee doggy”. She then followed that perfectly true statement up with, “And that’s his daddy.”

This is not true.

I cannot be the dug’s da. Not just for the obvious physical and ethical reasons, but for the fact he used to belong to my granny and granda who referred to themselves as his “ma and da”.

That makes the dug, technically, my uncle. That puts a weird spin on our relationship when I think of him like that. Uncle Timmy. He’s coming up for seven years old which means he’s apparently into his middle age if you compare his life cycle with a human’s. It makes him the equivalent of about 49 years old.

I think about this a lot.

When I have to bath him and remove fox faeces from his coat, “This is my almost 50-year-auld uncle I’m bathing here,” goes through my head. When he goes berserk when the door goes, “Sorry, my almost 50-year-auld uncle here doesn’t like visitors.” When he climbs into the bed with me and my girlfriend. “Aw, don’t worry, hen. That’s just my almost 50-year-auld uncle coming in for a cuddle.”

I moan about him a lot but he really is class. I’ve seen him come running over, wanting up onto my lap when I sit at my desk with my head in my hands as I get stressed out over something. He curls up and lets me clap him and then everything is alright again and I just calm down. Sometimes he wants cradled like a baby after a big walk that’s left him tired. He’s brilliant off the lead, comes back when I shout on him and never goes too far. Quite happy just cutting about with me. It’s magic.

He does my head in, I think I’ve got tinnitus from all his barking and it’s maybe gave me a twitch as well. He’s honking, he’s weird, he doesn’t always do what he’s told but he’s my best pal. I’d be lost without him I really would.