The Zookeeper

by Jonathan

November 2009

I’ve often wondered why I love dogs so much. It can’t just be that innate primeval thing, hounds being at man’s side throughout our evolution because, much as I find it hard to believe, there are some people who can’t stand dogs. But I don’t like cats so who am I to judge those crazy freaks? By cats I mean pet moggies of course….oh, and any cats associated with Andrew Lloyd Webber. I really can’t stand them. But I love wild predator cats. One of my dreams as a child was to own a lion, a majestic king of the jungle that would accompany me to school. Anyway, a while back a client revealed the secret of my canine affection, or rather, their affection for me…

We rarely go to a client’s home for a meeting. It’s usually a get-together in their offices or at our studio, but this client wanted to put on an elaborate spread for her board members so we all found ourselves squeezed around a dining table in a small red brick bungalow in a local Sydney suburb. But not before her dog had cheerfully greeted me at the door. And this, the client explained, was completely baffling, for Shady* was not a friendly dog. Apparently she was very particular about who she mixed with, and never approached anyone who had not wooed her for the requisite number of weeks. I, however, found her to be most affectionate, but I thought no more of it until I received call from the client a few days later. After discussing some details of the meeting she informed me of Shady’s new infatuation: me. So I joked, as I often do, that I believed I was a dog in a previous life. But I didn’t expect my client’s sinister retort: “Aha, do you?….I’ll find out.”

How do you respond to such a statement? With a simple and courteous ‘thank you’? Is it just like someone offering to research into your family tree? I think I spluttered something vaguely appreciative and got off the phone as quickly as possible. Feeling that this client was veering slightly off-kilter, I laughed about it with Patrick and put it out of my mind. But that wasn’t the end of it. A few days later a Skype message popped up on my screen: ‘You were not a dog in your previous life.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘No, you were a zookeeper. That’s why animals find you comforting and why they are attracted to you. They know you help them.’ ‘ Oh, ok then.’ How could she know this? Was there some spectral record I could check out? Now, despite myself, I was getting curious. ‘So how did you get this information?’ There was a pause in the messaging. But I persisted…‘How do you know this?’ Once again, the answer surprised me, but before I share it with you, let me say that this person is no longer a client. A definite madness enveloped her mind over the following weeks, and I like to think the first definite indication of a slip towards insanity was flagged with these three words: ‘Shady told me.’

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the bitch.

Image(s): N/A

A friend from a previous life