Paul McNamee: Gone to the dogs

The vital lifeforce that dogs provide for people living on the streets can be immeasurable

A growing number of Big Issue vendors have social media accounts. This is a good thing. It means their experiences are shared and an immediate insight into their reality is provided. And, key for a lot of vendors, they can alert readers when they’re on pitch.

One of the interesting Twitter accounts is from Robin Price. He works selling the magazine in Weston-super-Mare. Aside from alerts about when he’s heading to sell, he tweets a lot of pictures of trains, classic old locomotives and carriages. It’s strangely relaxing.

Last week one of Robin’s tweets was about Chanel, his dog (pictured above). It was in memory of Chanel. She died two years ago and Robin posted some pictures and said that he and his partner still miss her something sore.

And boy, did I feel for them.

A few years ago, I would have been dismissive. How, I would have muttered snidely, arrogantly, WRONGLY, could there be such affection for a dog?! A DOG! Ludicrous!

And then came Toastie.


If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

Toastie is now three. He’s a Springer, and he is, of course, the best dog in the world. Or my favourite child, as my daughter has called him. He greets me like I’m Shackleton back after years lost at the Antarctic when I return from the shops. We spend hours wandering over hills talking about why United STILL haven’t properly replaced Scholes, or when to use justified columns as opposed to unjustified in main features. Or, most frequently, why fox droppings are ALWAYS rolled in.

Dogs are incredible. So now I’m hugely, completely, drawn to short videos people post featuring dogs. I look out for the cover of Shooting Times every week. Not because I want to grab a gun, but because they have great-looking images of, mostly, Springers and other gundogs in every issue.

I’m in deep.


One of the most positive stories I saw last week was the news that a crowdfunding target had been hit for Dogs on the Streets. It’s a film being made by director Paul Sng about the canine companions of people who live on the street. Dogs on the Streets is also a charity, with volunteers who go out to provide welfare help for those animals.

Leaving aside the national shame of a growing number of people living on the streets, the vital lifeforce that their dogs provide can be immeasurable.

Working with The Big Issue I’d known of it for a number of years, but it took until I got my own dog to really understand it. Shame on me. In a period of confusion and flux, of political uncertainty and of false idols who rise promising all sorts of baloney, I salute dogs. They will help us all!

Incidentally, I welcome any of your positive dog-related stories and tweets. And you can follow Robin on @robinprice1975.

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue