Dog Blog

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I haven’t blogged of late. Not because things have been particularly difficult (although they have, from time to time), nor because I have nothing to say (I do! I do!), but because in the last month our home life has been turned upside down by a small dog named Dorothy.

It has been a bit of a shock. We are not, or were not, ‘doggy’ people. We got annoyed with the dogs who barked as we ran past and the owners who didn’t pick up their dogs’ poos. We often found the smell in doggy houses rather unpleasant and if I’m perfectly honest, we probably thought most doggy people were a bit soft in the head.

When the children started to badger us for a dog, we found every reason we could to dissuade them. Along with all the arguments listed above, there were: We won’t be able to go abroad on holiday; you will argue over it; it will wreck the house; it will upset the cats; there are too many dogs around here already; it will molt everywhere; we will end up having to look after it, not you; it will be very expensive. And each of these points has already proved itself to be true. But…

Our sad eyed bundle of fur has already given our family an almost indescribable boost. Indeed I feel quite overwhelmed (in a slightly teary and really rather soft-headed way) thinking about how our lives have changed for the better since she came to live with us. The parallels with adoption are there, although unlike our children, Dorothy was one pampered pup (we’re talking Farleys Rusks and warm goats milk at bedtime) before she came. Still, like our children Dorothy has had to leave all she knew before and make a new life for herself here with new owners and without her mum, dad, brothers and sisters. So we are in familiar’ish territory there at least.

And our daily lives have once again been transformed, for better and worse! For a start, she has given us a whole new routine: We get up early to feed her and take her out and plan our day around her (alongside the children’s school and activities, of course) so at the very least we are ready earlier, getting more fresh air and more exercise. She has given our family a new focus and dynamic – we no longer put all our attention onto the children’s behaviour and, although both have complained that they get less attention, they also love her and are slowly accepting that there might be more to our home life than their own needs and wants. It’s hard to be cross when she nips or wees on the carpet, after all, she’s just a baby! – our baby – and sweet as a nut, which helps.

Most importantly (and thank you Mizz for pointing this out before we got her because it really tipped the do-we / don’t-we balance in her favour) she gives us all endless, unconditional love. Being joyfully greeted every time you come down stairs or back from the shops with the waggiest tail, the sloppiest licks and softest cuddles, really is all it’s cracked up to be and makes us feel truly, specially blessed. Seeing daily behavioural changes based on our actions and their consequences is an added bonus! And coming as she has when our children are at their puberty-approaching grumpiest, the timing could not have been better. What is picking up poo with a bag when you are used to scraping it off the walls? Barking? Pah! Chewed furniture and wet doggy pong? Bring em on! Thank you Miss Dorothy. You have changed my life.

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In the doghouse

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Today was supposed to be the day I went over the sea and far away to collect our Dorothy doglet.

Alas, due to what Lemony Snicket would describe as a series of unfortunate events, it was not to be. Not today anyway. The high winds, the seasick sister, the doting breeder who now has ‘concerns’ and the needs of the poor wee pup have all conspired against us.

Such a change of plan (helpfully described by my husband as ‘a monumental cock-up’) on the first day of a new half term has caused untold misery shaynoo this morning. Thankfully I was able to get Blue into the car before breaking to him gently halfway to school that there would be no welcome woofs on his return. I was called a few nasty names (worrevs) but in truth he was more worried about how his dodgy knee would bear up in football training.

Red was a different kettle of dogfish altogether. She cried, she screamed, she hollered, she swore, she banged plates on her head and emptied the contents of my bag all over the kitchen in a furious explosion of untethered ire. Not having slept a single wink in anticipation of this moment, I miserably accepted her wrath, foolishly thinking my doleful resignation would pacify her at least somewhat. Ha! In my dreams. Next, she stole my phone and sent rude texts to aforementioned (extremely forgiving) sister, refusing to walk to school or even leave the house. Somehow, I persuaded her out with a promise of a lift, but she was still seething and only calmed down enough to drag herself out of the car and into school about 20 minutes after ‘in time’, stomping past the office hatch and emitting one last grunt of an insult through clenched jaws as I was informing them of her absence.

I should say that we had already rearranged to pick up the wee doggie next weekend when we can all travel together and take turns cuddling her all the way home. The doting breeder thinks that is a much better idea, as does Elmo, as do I. And I did tr-r-r-yyyy to tell my children this. Never mind that today’s seas are too rough, the timings are all wrong and our car is so filthy it is likely to give the unvaccinated puppy any number of life-threatening diseases. I am a fatbitchnotmyrealmumfromhell with a horridstupidfatseasicksister and, for the next five dog-free days at least, I will just have to PAY.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, parts 1-20

IanDuryTo be honest, this has not been a good week. So I hope you will excuse this self-indulgent and frankly, surprisingly long list on the basis that it has allowed me to name and count my not-inconsiderable blessings in a climate of dense gloom.

  1. It looks like the children’s book I have been writing with a friend may well be published. Still in shock, nothing signed, but feeling tentatively cheerful about that.
  2. We are probably-almost definitely-maybe getting a doglet. Going to see one next week. On my own. On a hovercraft – weeeeee – another tick off the bucket list. Small pleasures!
  3. Our sanctuary of a bedroom in the loft. My place of peace with four big windows from which I can see for miles in all directions. Heaven.
  4. An amazing app called Night Sky. I can point up at the stars from my bed and find out what I’m looking at. Apps are pretty amazing things full stop really, aren’t they?
  5. Our boy Blue. Our girl Red. We have our moments, some of them hideous, but there are good reasons for most. We are getting there and they make me happy too.
  6. Elmo and I are going out tonight! Wooohooo! Paaaaarddddayyyy.
  7. Maps: a pleasure inherited from my daddy.
  8. Our family, on both sides. We love them and, whatever the crap, they love us back, unconditionally. They are happy, smiley, positive people too, which helps.
  9. Yoga. I just GET it. These days I even like the breathing and the funny long names. It makes me feel alive and content and temporarily in love with whomsoever is leading the session, even if she is on YouTube.
  10. Our incredible local friends, most of whom we met through the children, an unexpected benefit if you like. I really don’t know what we would do without them. They are a godsend. (Note to self: They are probably getting fed up with the unrequited rescue requests. Throw that thank you party SOON.)
  11. Talking and texting to my sisters in pseudo-European-gobbledegook.
  12. The online adoption community, Gawd bless us. They (you / me) truly understand and are only ever a tweet away. Instant therapy, sunshine or guidance as required.
  13. Planning holidays and trips away. One of life’s most indulgent pleasures (I browse haaaard). In another life, I think I could be a bespoke travel agent.
  14. Walking in the countryside. The joy of nature, as my teachers used to call it. Thank you. I get it now.
  15. All the music iTunes and Spotify can give me instant access to on demand. Singing together, wherever. Dancing, when possible. Old tunes, new tunes, Radio 1-6, I can even enjoy Kiss FM in short bursts. Lately though my preference, while sitting alone in the car or very occasional bath, is Radio 3! Ahhh, the orderly, complicated, measured, harmonic beauty of it all. I really must be getting old. Talking of which…
  16. Old friends who make me feel that I am somehow still whoever I once was. We happily accept the wrinkles and other changes we see as the years pass because we can also see and remember that younger more vibrant us inside each other. Wonderful.
  17. Multicultural Britain, particularly the great mix of children and families I work with and the Turkish shop at the bottom of our road. I can buy almost anything there, fresh and cheap and it smells just like our friend Kemal’s shop in Istanbul. Yay!
  18. The sacred and the profane. I am not religious and I’m not even very spiritual but I do relish the few moments I’ve experienced of that peace which passeth understanding, at least I think that’s what it was. I love holy places of all persuasions (I include no.14 among those) and admire the wisdom, kindness and courage of many who embrace faith, even if I can’t quite do it myself. I’m also strangely drawn to religious symbols and icons, including the cheesy variety. In fact, the cheesier the better as far as they are concerned. Aaaaaamen.
  19. My beautiful, kind, clever, hard-working, young(ish) husband Elmo Stickle. Although the height of passion these days has become snuggling up in our den watching whatever series we are into at the time – I would say Wolf Hall but he keeps falling asleep – he still makes me very happy indeed.
  20. Being old and proud: I got a letter the other day saying my not-very-sizeable pension comes into fruition this year. That made me laugh out loud! I really don’t care anymore what other people think. I already wear quite a lot of purple.