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Me, My Dog and Michael Gove

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When we re-homed Dudley, a loveable but nervous Cocker Spaniel last year following the death of Roxy, our beloved Cairn Terrier, my children observed that we had gone from a dog that was my wife in dog form, to my doggy alter ego.

I knew what they meant regarding my wife. To begin with, she possesses the same hair colour that Roxy had. And both had Gaelic origins. They both have an overwhelming focus on achieving their objectives - whether it was Roxy bolting across a car park having picked up a scent to be discovered two hours later. Or my wife who still has the habit of pinging awake early declaring she has a lot to get done and leaps out of bed ignoring my pitiful cries of "But it is only six o'clock in the morning" before I return to sleep for a further three hours.

True, there are differences. My wife, as far as I know has never consumed the decaying carcass of a rabbit and her ability to run lacked the gazelle like quality that Roxy had in propelling herself across the garden with grace and speed towards winged prey.

I am too close to evaluate the similarities between Dudley and me although am concerned that the family refer to him being extraordinarily ugly. He is also not the sharpest poodle in the parlour.

What he does have though that fascinates me are the most enormous private parts.

While I am entirely confident in the trouser department, I am a minnow compared to Dudley's mighty salmon. He lollops along during walks, his testicles swinging from side to side like a set of Christmas bells, his penis an impediment when going uphill or jumping over fallen branches.

My wife has commenced a campaign for Dudley's Christmas bells to be removed in a bid to calm him down. This followed a discussion with our vet who advised that Cocker Spaniels have a tendency to testicular cancer if their bits are not removed.

Mother Nature seems to be very unfair in this regard. To have a set of bells and not be allowed to ring them after a certain point.

Ironically, for some years, my wife ran a similar campaign to have my Christmas bells de-activated. I resisted - they are my bells after all and I will ring them when I like (standard restrictions applying).

I do therefore feel a certain sense of solidarity with Dudley although am torn between guarding his carillon and emptying his belfry should the alternative lead to his downfall.

Beyond this, Dudley and I both enjoy a good cuddle, are terrible at running and like nothing better than lying flat on our backs having our tummies tickled for as long as time permits or RSI sets in to the tickler.

I am though unable to lick my own private parts, have bloodshot eyes only some of the time and discovered some years ago that persistently pawing people was liable to make me the subject of a restraining order.

On balance therefore, I am proud to resemble Dudley. There are worse creatures to look like some with even smaller private parts - guinea pigs (trust me, impossible to sex), Michael Gove (ditto).