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Meet Lenny, Barry, Sidney and Bruce – the dogs of 2018 – The Sydney Morning Herald

January is the time of year when if you haven’t gone away yet – or you’re already back – you might be called on to facilitate a neighbour’s week at the beach by feeding and walking their pet dog.

This year it’s Lenny, a feisty bundle of wiry hair and nervous energy who lives with three teenage boys and their mum and dad around the corner.

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He’s a nice little fellow, and I felt a twinge of something when we went over just after midnight on New Year’s Eve to see how he was handling the local fireworks.

He wasn’t: we found the poor pooch cowering behind the op-shop Tupperware in a kitchen cupboard.

Lenny has all the things you want in an urban canine: a bit of poodle so he doesn’t leave hair on the couch, a bit of something else that portmanteaus with “doodle”, and that name – what’s with that?

Lenny, Barry, Sidney, Bruce – these are all dogs of my acquaintance, all bearing human names, and human names that no one would give to a human kid in 2018 (unless the kid was a girl).

They’re the names of rogue uncles from the 1970s, the types you see sporting sideburns in a beer commercial: blokey names that I can only conclude mark the dog’s status as the honorary bloke in the family.

While middle-class human males these days are (rightly) expected to mind their Ps and Qs, a whatchamadoodle called Sidney can get away with murder.

He can sleep as much (or as little) as he likes, wake up and demand to be fed, throw up his kibble on the porch and cop nothing more than an exasperated “Sidney!”

He can wander under the table at a dinner party and nuzzle a guest’s crotch, lay his head in any lap that will have it and eat turkey scraps out of the kitchen bin.

Off the leash? He goes there every day, sniffing other dogs’ behinds, chasing small children until they cry (what are they doing in an off-the-leash park anyway?) and picking fights with German shepherds that he can’t possibly win – someone will pull them apart before anyone gets hurt.

He can stay up all night howling at the moon and pee on lamp-posts without getting arrested.

And when it all gets too much, like it does on New Year’s Eve, he can curl up in a corner and whimper until some sympathetic human comes along and gives him a hug.

Try that these days, human male, and see how far it gets you. Even if your name is Sidney.

Matt Holden is a Fairfax Media columnist.

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