July 22, 2009


A quick explanation is probably needed, in view of the disturbed people who might arrive here in some confusion after injudicious Googling.
In fact the word in the title is not a neologism, and can be found on other sites, but I am the first person I know to use it, so I take the blame for shamelessly combining a Greek suffix with an Old English root word to describe people strongly attracted to dogs. (In the most innocent way of course, and if any fetishists have read this far, please move along. There is absolutely nothing for you here.)

In my mind, dogophiliacs are slightly different from doglovers, in that many people claim to love dogs, but they often mean only their own, or ones similar to their own. Dogophiliacs, on the other hand, are irresistably drawn to dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments, although "Elwood", the World's Ugliest Dog 2007 (right), would admittedly be a challenge.

I am a lifelong dogophiliac, and although I can (thank goodness) effortlessly resist all the "doggy stuff" that canny marketeers tempt us with, I cannot pass up any opportunity to greet a dog, especially if it is looking at me in an interested way. I have to admit that both dogs and children frequently cast me funny looks, but I have never been inclined to go and greet children. ;-)

During a recent trip to the UK, where dogophilia is more widespread than anywhere else, I found that it works greatly to the advantage of the solo traveller. Many conversations with complete strangers started with "Do you mind if I say hello to your dog?", and because both the dog and the owner can tell a true dogophiliac from someone just being polite, this greeting is always received very well by both parties. It crosses all social boundaries too, and even the most patrician owner cannot help unbending a little when their pride and joy is suitably fussed over.

But a word of warning to those who might see such behaviour as an easy way to gain someone's trust for dishonest reasons - insincerity is very easily spotted by even the most gormless dog, and you'll be very lucky if your only reprimand is a look of cold disdain.

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