My dog has recently started acting rather strangely. He is a bearded collie named Doolin, and to those who are not familiar with the breed, he is basically a large lolloping, slobbering ball of black and white fluff, the sort that would make a fantastic fireside rug if such a thing was socially acceptable.
The personality change started with a look of disdain and boredom. He then became increasingly grumpier and has been having more bad hair days than not. Normally he keeps himself looking quite dapper and I was a bit concerned that he might be 'letting himself go'. Also - you'll think I'm mad - I am sure that he has been trying to communicate with me.
We decided on lavishing him with extra fuss and attention but dispensed with the idea of giving him a mirror as that might possibly result in an outbreak of wanton vanity. The extra cuddles and chats seemed to have little effect so I had a bit of a rethink.
He is 5 1/2 years old. So, in dog years, that means he must be pushing forty. It suddenly became clear. He's been having a mid-life crisis! It happens to men, so why can't it happen to dogs?
In the case of the human male, the mid-life crisis usually manifests itself in a period of simultaneous self-loathing and re-evaluation. They think about what they have achieved in their time on this earth and often seek new pastures. This can be a career change, a new wardrobe or an extra-marital affair. All desperate signs of the last shreds of youth disappearing before their very eyes.
With this information in front of me, I realised it made perfect sense. It explains the mood swings. Doolin obviously feels that he has a dog's life and is yearning for a change in direction. The bad hair thing, I think, is actually a sign of rebellion. He is rejecting an enforced stereotype by refusing to grow old gracefully - a bit like Peter Stringfellow. Like Mr Stringfellow, Doolin also displays embarrassing behaviour traits when he's in female company.
Despite all this, I think his long-term prognosis is quite favourable. Because, unlike the human male, at least Doolin is trying to communicate.