On still not quite getting a dog – part 7

It was snowing when I went to bed on Monday.

It snowed while I was asleep.

It snowed…

…and snowed…

…and snowed…

~25cm overnight.


In the morning – a very dark, but also very white morning – Tuesday appeared.

Tuesday. Dog-pick-up-day.

I was going to pick up a dog, on my own, in the aftermath of the heaviest snow of the year.

Berlin is not known for its snow. It does snow, but not much and not often. As a result, people who drive in Berlin are generally not accustomed to driving in snow and tend to do strange things. I learned to drive in Berlin, and since then we’ve only had very mild winters so I have next to no experience of driving in snow at all.
Oh joy.


DB phoned his parents and asked if he (=I) could borrow the van. It’s a 4 wheel drive and apparently better on snow than my car.

That has to be a good thing, right?

Right. The less sliding about the better.

On the other hand, I’ve hardly ever driven it. The first time I did, in a mission to help DB juggle several cars between various workplaces, workshops and houses, it was evening, and getting dark fast. 

Halfway home the dashboard lights died, so I drove in unknowing darkness – unable to see how fast I was going, whether I was about to run out of fuel or even what time it was. Once I was out of a streetlit area, I realised I was out of headlights too. DB was way ahead of me, and my phone had helpfully run out of battery so I couldn’t pull over and phone anyone to say where I was. Not that I really knew where I was anyway. As a passenger I look out of the windows. I look at art on posters and electricity boxes, I look at peoples’ gardens and the animals in fields. I don’t look at signposts or road junctions, and certainly don’t memorise them. I decided I didn’t really fancy parking on a fairly well travelled road in the dark with no lights and no hard shoulder or layby, so I carried on going (I’m still not sure what’s more frightening – stopping with no lights or driving with no lights ;)).

I made it home, slowly.

The second time I drove the van, it was also dark. The difference was that this time I had lights. I also had 3 drunken males and a piles of bicycles to distribute across Berlin.

I made it home that night too, but not before I’d reversed into a signpost*.


DB’s dad brought the van round and DB went to work.

I finished putting away the last few things (amazing what you can oversee) and hung up a picture I’d rediscovered in the dog-proofing sort out.

Then, fully appreciating the pointlessness, I washed the floor. I wanted the inevitable first-day pictures (and hordes of dog lover visits) to take place without being embarrassed by the state of the house/floor. Also, it’s easier to prove find out how grubby a dog is when you start from clean.

(This is a good place to issue a slight disclaimer for the last post… quite a lot of the things I sorted were things I’ve been meaning to do for a while – sometimes I need a more pressing reason than just because…)

When everything was ready, I looked up the dog’s home’s address and had a more-or-less** leisurely breakfast.


There I was, breakfasted and with a van and a clean house and a newly programmed SatNag.

Off I set.

* please note – when delivering drunken people to their homes, DO NOT believe them when they tell you there is room to turn a van round in front of their house. Such foolish belief could lead to reversing down a steep sloping drive and back onto the road…..or into a signpost…

** less (because of already being later  )

On not yet getting a dog – part 6

The second walk was on a Sunday. On the following Monday DB phoned me from work, excited like a little kid who’d been invited to a birthday party.

Turns out the RC had not only received the blood test results, but the vet had also been and pronounced P fit – as long as she continued to take her medicine.

DB suggested he leave work early to pick her up immediately but they turned him down – they’re closed to the public on Mondays so although the RC staff were around, the secretary/reception desk staff/people who deal with the paperwork weren’t.

DB had to work all week (duh!) but I was still home on sick leave (more on that later) so he’d told them I’d pick her up as soon as they opened on Tuesday….Was that ok?


– !!! –


DB went back to whatever he’d been working on and I set about rearranging the house.

We have lots of open shelving, and although nothing was unwrapped I figured having food at dog-nose-level was probably not a good plan.

Dog-proofing the house turned out to be a bigger job than I’d anticipated and involved emptying and refilling boxes, tubs, packets, jars, shelves and cupboards. Things were piled on the floor, carried from one room to another, thrown away, poured or tipped together, reorganised, rediscovered, redistributed.

Just as I’d reached the middlest, messiest stage of the process DB arrived home. He took one look at the carnage, fought his way to the sofa and stayed there, feet tucked up well out of range of vacuum-cleaner, until the coast was clear and the house was tidy.

On [not quite] not getting a dog – part 5

On the way home from the first meeting, DB had thought-out-loud about adopting P even if his parents wouldn’t. After the first walk, the idea was firmly fixed in his head.

A second walk, the next day, sealed the deal. P was going to be rescued whatever his folks said (and they weren’t making dog rescuing noises). DB set about making arrangements and talking to the staff about finalising the adoption.

We couldn’t take her home immediately because she has ‘stomach problems’ and had been fighting with diarrhoea for a month or so. That explained why she was in the RC at all and why it had taken so long to arrange the first walk after the first meeting.

At the time of the first walk she’d been diarrhoea-free for a couple of days but they were waiting for the results from a series of blood tests.

We left with the promise of a phone call when they knew what the vet said. We shouldn’t hold our breaths – it could still take a couple of weeks before she was considered fit for release.

On not getting a dog – part 4

The day of The Walk arrived. Finally.
DB and I got there half an hour earlier than his father and C, to give us time to sort out the paperwork – that was DB’s job because he’d spoken to the rehab centre (RC) most, and his dad didn’t want to complicate things. DB’s mother stayed home with a cold.

As soon as the official part was over, we left the RC and wandered towards the car park. That is, we would have wandered if P hadn’t been tugging so hard on the line. Instead, we were dragged towards the car park.

When she wasn’t dragging DB along, she stood immovably still, sniffing frantically – a wall, a leaf, a clump of longer grass…anything and everything.

Freedom muss smell good to a dog.

DB says sniffing is, for a dog, like reading newspapers.. (and peeing on things is like writing articles or blog posts ;))

DB called her a couple of times as we walked, to see if she knows her name (and responds to strangers). Every time he called, she’d come running back to us, stop briefly at my feet, look up at us until she was patted before bounding off again. DB thought that was most unfair since he had the lead and was doing all the calling.. ­čśë


DB’s dad pulled into the car park as we got there – talk about perfect timing!

C was completely uninterested in getting to know anyone and mostly ignored P. He marched past her and spent a long time reading newspapers at the other end of the field. Seemed a little bit pointless, but at least they didn’t fight I suppose.

Once all the papers were empty, he deigned to join us for a phone shoot.

P left, C right, both approximately the same age

It took 3 of us a good 10 minutes to get both of them to face the same way at the same time – and stand still long enough for a blurr-free photo..

DB’s dad didn’t stay much longer after that..something to do with getting back to his wife.. it seems he’d gone out to pick up cough-syrup.. Besides, it was far too cold to stand around with no gloves taking pictures.


The rest of the walk was uneventful. I took over holding the line partway through and tried getting her to “heel”, “sit”, “come”, “slow down”, with varying degrees of success. DB said it was much too early to expect her to listen and or respond. She did stop pulling so much though – presumably dogs home walks are shorter than mine!

P, not tugging on the lead


We handed her back before the home closed, and headed back to our home for dinner.

On not getting a dog – part 3

ÔÇőA few days later we were back, well before closing time. We were welcomed into the rehab centre and P was brought in to see us.

DB took a couple of pictures, but nothing spectacular – P isn’t the most camera friendly dog (and DB was too busy filling in the forms necessary to be allowed to take her for walks to wait for opportune photo moments ;))

The blurry pictures were enough to convince DB’s dad that he had to see her for himself. Also, it seems not all dogs are willing to live with each other and it’s Very Important to test the water and let them get to know each other beforehand.

DB’s mother was still not convinced, but by then she’d already admitted that P was a cute dog, so she didn’t object too much. (Not that I spoke to her – that’s second hand information…).

Several weeks and phonecalls to the home later, a date was organised for the following weekend. All of us, plus C (DB’s dad’s dog) were going to the home to take P for a walk.

On not getting a dog – part 2

The dogs home was much bigger and quite a lot better than I’d expected. Also they don’t just have dogs..

The animals are kept in groups (cats/small animals/dogs/exotic animals/birds/farm animals), where each group is assigned its own area.

Each area is divided into different sections, the dogs area has a compound for dogs that were found and are waiting for their owners to collect them, one for dogs that are ill, and 3 for dogs that can be adopted.

Each compound has 3 round buildings surrounded by pens/cages. Each cage has 1-3 dogs and an assortment of toys and bedding. And a dog flap so they can go and play outside whenever they want.

By the time we’d been round the three adoption compounds without finding P, the home was in the process of closing for the evening. We found a carer who told up P was still in “rehab”, but gave us a number to phone the next day.

Rehab in Germany generally refers to recovery from health problems rather than drug problems. In this case, P had rather bad stomach problems and severe diarrhoea.


On definitely not getting a dog – part 1

Sporadically, DB looks at pictures of dogs currently in the dogs home. It’s a bit like a dating site; each dog has a profile picture, several additional pictures, and a list of information people may or may not consider interesting or necessary.

Occasionally, while scrolling through the pictures, he will sigh and tell me all about the unfairness of the world.

Sometimes, rarely, he will show me a picture.

Well, “rarely” until a few months ago.

Recently, finding show-and-tell worthy pictures has become increasingly more common.

In November there was a labrador puppy. Shortly afterwards there was a run of other dogs I failed to register as important.

Just before Christmas he discovered a Wolfsspitz/Keeshond, named P, who’d just been added to the dog-dating list. That’s the breed he grew up with, and the breed his father still has. His father’s dog, C, is ill. He has some kind of problem with his heart which causes him to have seizures. DB can’t imagine his dad without a dog, and suggested he adopt P. That way C could help her settle in and, in turn, she (P) could help his dad deal with C’s inevitable death.

DB’s dad was originally against the idea of getting a new dog, mostly because he’s not sure he’ll outlive another one, partly because he says C isn’t dead yead, and might hold out a couple more years yet… 

When he saw the pictures he slowly started changing his mind. 

When she caught wind of all the planning DB’s mother said “no way”. She wasn’t against a new dog per se, or even against this particular one, she was against having 2 at a time. 

A month or so of various persuasional tactics later, she was still adamant and DB’s dad more interested.

In January DB suggested we go to see whether she was still there and take some more pictures of her for his dad – a kind of secret mission to undermine his mother.

I went along for the ride – and to make sure he didn’t come home with a vanful of assorted homeless dogs.

On not having a dog – prologue

[A short history]

I didn’t want a dog.

I don’t remember ever wanting a dog.

Not even as a kid.

My family wasn’t and isn’t particularly dog-friendly, and besides, we had a mouse, followed by cats, chickens, goats and pigs. I had no need for a dog. I could snuggle up in bed with the cat, set up obstacle courses for the mouse, take the goats for walks, watch the pigs go crazy for treats (like crab apples), chase, and be chased by, the chickens.. Why constrict yourself to just one animal, when you could have so many?

Years later, living alone, I still had no need or wish for a dog. I wanted to be flexible – to have the freedom to go out, to stay out all night if I wanted to, to go away with very little notice, to travel on trains and busses and aeroplanes, to get lifts in cars with strangers. To have people over, or to stay by myself, hiding under the duvet, peering at the world without actually going out in it. A dog would have been restrictive, would have made me change the way I stumbled through my day, would have required planning and multiple daily walks and dog sitters and the transport of heavy bags of dog food in addition to my own shopping. I didn’t even buy a rabbit because it would’ve needed looking after when I was away.

As recently as Christmas I would have told you I didn’t want a dog, and not just because dogs aren’t for Christmas. DB and I regularly look after his parents’ dog. It’s selectively deaf, very stubborn, very hairy, and very lazy. It has the ability to completely and almost instantaneously cover the floor in fur and mud and slobber. Walks take longer with him than the same walk twice over might otherwise take without him. It howls when neither DB nor his owners are around, and barks and howls when they are. It demands dog treats every time either it or anyone else comes through the front door, regardless of how long they spend on the other side of it. It not only smells permanently of wet dog, even if it hasn’t been anywhere wet, it also has hideously bad breath. In short, it’s a joy to have around. I’m all for doing favours for people. But there was no way I would have wanted to adopt it. Luckily it isn’t an option – DB’s parents love it to bits.

Last summer, we looked after a friend’s dog. It’s far older, but far more interesting than DB’s folks’ dog, because it is at least prepared to walk. It’s interested in what’s going on around it, and it’s better able to put difficult commands like ‘sit’ into practice.

I enjoyed that week more than other dog weeks…..But I still didn’t want one.

Life gets planned, based on what the dog wants or needs to do. You can’t leave it alone, you often can’t take it with you. After a week or so, that’s pretty dull..

DB on the other hand, thinks life without a dog is dull…