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…

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