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Please Sir, the dog ate my handset


via Flickr © DaniJace (CC BY 2.0)

When I was a lad one of the old-time, perennial favourite excuses of British schoolboys in trouble was, "Please Sir, the dog ate my homework". Even as a 12 year-old I could see the many flaws inherent to this hokey argument and so it was one I never used myself, preferring instead the equally plausible, "Please Sir, My mother used  my homework to light the fire with". That didn't work either and a caning duly followed. Nonetheless, several of my chums stuck doggedly to their dodgy doggy excuses and they grew up (although bruised from time to time ) to be doctors, chemists, serial killers and even a vicar!

But my, how times have changed. Today we have empiric evidence to support the veracity of that very modern excuse of the early 21st century: "Please Sir, the dog ate my handset - and my tablet, and my laptop."

A new pan-European study shows that British mutts have chewed their way through some £358 million worth of telephone handsets and tablet devices over the past five years! In the wider European context, dogs (and it seems a few most peculiar cats) have munched through £1.5 billion of hand-held devices since 2010 but it is UK canines that have swallowed the lion's share - as it were. The best behaved dogs, or perhaps those with a more fastidious appetite than the "eat-the-lot and then look for more" British pets, are Danish doggies. They are the most pawsimonious, having gobbled down a mere £10 million's worth over the same period.

The research, the SquareTrade Pet Accident Study 2015 (I kid you not), carried out by Qualtrics, took online survey feedback (boom!boom! It's the way I tell 'em!) from 16,000 respondent pet owners in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

To extrapolate the findings SquareTrade used two external data sources: population statistics from Principles and Recommendations for Population Censuses (Revision2) department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Statistics Division and pet ownership data from the European Pet Food Industry Federation Facts and Figures study.

It finds that 14 per cent of UK homes have suffered technology damage inflicted by their pets. Apparently "overactive" pets are the most likely to cause "severe" damage to devices via over-enthusiastic tail-wagging, general canine clumsiness and exuberance. The study warns that overweight dogs (of which there are a great many in Britain) are statistically more likely to damage  (or eat) technology. Yum, yum.

Those households with both a canine and a feline are most at risk as they are 85 per cent more likely to suffer an eating cat-astrophe.

Kevin Gillan, the European MD of San Francisco-headquartered SquareTrade, says, “Pet owners are wasting extraordinary amounts of money on repairing phones, tablets and other handheld devices that have inadvertently become luxury doggy chews."

And Arden Moore, "a certified dog and cat behaviourist and world-renowned pet expert" adds, "Pets have the same range of emotions that their owners do. Just as often as they are happy, they can be jealous, bored or angry. While pet owners may be tempted to pick up their electronic devices the moment they get home, it’s important to give their furry friends just as much attention – or pet hijinks can become the norm.”

"Pet hijinks" such as devouring an expensive laptop for example. Pavlov would quickly have put a stop to that sort of nonsense.

In case you hadn't twigged it, SquareTrade is insurance protection plan for mobile devices, laptops and tablets and other consumer electronics and appliances.

Cockney rhyming slang for the good old telephone is the ‘dog and bone’. It is in common parlance in Blighty and it is always entertaining to watch the look on the faces of bemused tourists when they overhear someone say, "Alright then I'll give you a bell on the dog, early doors.” Happens all the time.

The thing is of course that phones aren't bones. They surely can't be anything like as tasty and they must be hard to swallow - and even harder to get rid of later. hence the increasing popularity of industrial-strength pooper-scoopers.

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