OWNING a pet is a wonderful thing. They don’t answer back, offer non-judgmental solace when you’re feeling blue and provide endless companionship as well as hours of entertainment.

We’ve got eight guinea pigs that live in a large wheelie hen house we can move around the garden, thus saving hours with the lawnmower.

They are intelligent little beasts, each having their own character, and are incredibly therapeutic to handle, providing moments of calm when the going gets tough.

Plus they’re better than rabbits, which have more than a bit missing between their ears and don’t do an awful lot.

Some people think we’re a bit bonkers devoting half of our back lawn to eight peeing and pooping grass munchers, but we’re not nearly as bad as some. Not even close. For there are those pet owners who really do take the dog biscuit when it comes to how they treat their animals.

Like the couple we know who built a large bespoke shed in their back garden, complete with carpet and a heater so their dog doesn’t get coldin winter.

They refer to themselves as its mummy and daddy, sign Christmas and birthday cards with its name as well as theirs and treat it like a child to the point of nausea.

I also know of a couple who used to have a rabbit – not any old daft rabbit that sat hunched in a hutch for hours on end, but one that lived indoors. If you don’t mind the odd ‘rabbit currant’ being trod into your living room carpet I suppose having a rabbit share your house with you is okay – after all, plenty of people do it.

Except this rabbit wasn’t just any house rabbit. It had its own hutch inside the back door that it would hop into after it had been for a lope round the back garden. If it wanted a bit of company it would hop out of its hutch and rub noses with the bloke of the house as he lay on the floor watching the telly.

The couple even designed an extension to their home round said rabbit to make sure the hutch could be properly accommodated. And they took it on holiday. But giving the rabbit a wind-up radio so it could listen to the Test Match as it whiled away a car journey shows devotion of exceptional order…. either that, or complete bonkers-ness.

There are also those women who mince down the street in their high heels and sprayed-on leopard skin pants with a shivery dog thing either tucked under their arm, peeping out of their capacious handbag (all that dog hair mingling with lipsticks and tissues – ugh!), or riding in a doggy trolley like a baby in a buggy, surveying all before it in the manner of an odious little troll.

On top of that it’s probably got clothes on. A little vest thing and jaunty little hat, set off by a faux diamante-studded collar, and if it has to walk down the street, little weatherproof bootees so its delicate little paws don’t get cold and wet.

Or make a muddy mess in that handbag when it’s scooped up in its besotted – and pathetically stupid – owner’s arms.

These are the sorts of people who throw birthday parties for their pets. Believe it or not there’s even websites dedicated to this.

One of them, www.dogs-have-birthdays-too.com, advises owners about invitations, decorations and party games – pass the Bonio anyone? – doggy party menus and cake.

It suggests that human guests should know that they may get a bit dirty with all that drooling, digging and jumping so should dress accordingly. They should also let their host know if their doggy guests have any food allergies, and be told whether the birthday dog is expecting presents or has a gift registry. I kid you not…

Hosts, it seems, should provide extra poop disposal bags and water bowls, and create a ‘time out area’ where naughty doggies can go if they end up snarling and barking at the other doggy guests.

Plus they should make sure garden gates are secured so the dog guests can’t escape.

Well, let me say this. Anyone who might be planning to do this for their pooch needs to know something. Nobody gives a toss when your dog’s birthday is. Not your family, friends, workmates or neighbours, and especially not your dog…