Following the success of gay couples to get their union properly recognised, thousands of dog owners are now fighting to win exactly the same rights. Daphne Moran who runs the Dogs Are Forever dating agency, is leading the national petition.
“We have hundreds of happy couples on our books, all demanding official recognition for their partnership,” explained 50 year old spinster Miss Moran. Some would be satisfied to win rights to a Civil Partnership ceremony in which human and dog would pledge their troth. But others want to go the whole hog and are demanding rights to hold full-scale weddings in a church.
“My darling Spaniel, Rochester, has been my loyal mate for the past seven years and we intend to stay together 'until death us do part,” declared Vanessa Calthorp, an office manager from Ilford. Rochester immediately barked his agreement and turned over to have his tummy rubbed, his dark eyes flashing in the glow of the warm firelight.
Belinda Fosdyke who shares her 12 bedroom Jacobean manor house with Heathcliff, a ten year old Afghan Hound, is equally adamant that marriage is how they see their future. “ I knew Heathcliff would be my soul mate the moment I first saw him at the rescue centre,” she explained. “He'd been abandoned you see. What sort of person would ever abandon something so utterly gorgeous.”
Church leaders however are less sure about the prospect of future marriages between human and dog. The Reverend Jim Shaw, Bishop of Barnstaple pondered the important issue of responses, particularly whether a dog was capable of saying yes. “Consider the question, will you Darcy the Dog take thee Margaret Jane Piggott to love and to cherish, to have and to hold etcetera etcetera for as long as ye both shall live,” asked the good bishop. “I have to say that a bark or even a friendly woof might equally be intended to mean “no” as well as “yes”.
“We have to carefully consider the rights of the dog in all this.”