I know I go on about my dogs a bit, which is incredibly boring for non dog people. Like when you start telling non baby people (yes, like me) about your baby’s dada mumbles, solid food experiments or first “smile” (I hate to break it to you, it’s probably wind).
But dogs are amazing. Not all dogs. Some dogs, like some humans, are pricks (why is c**t more offensive than phallic curse words? Am I missing something? Or is a vagina sacred in the system of swearword grading because babies come out of them? See, babies again. They’re everywhere in your thirties).
I remembered that at Pieta today we talked about dogs and the comfort they give: how they can read your body language and how they (seem to) know how to respond to your mood. I had mentioned that I had a great sleep last night with the dogs in with me. They usually sleep on a big pile of cushions and blankets on the landing but last night was particularly icy so I took them in. Sven curled up in the crook of my knees and AnnaPuppy nuzzled her little snory head under the pillow next to me. They didn’t move all night, keeping me toasty. And asleep, all through the witching hours.
Their little faces; their different personalities; their wise eyes willing your stoopid human brain to understand them, to listen to them when they’re trying to tell you that everything will be ok.
Currently Sven is laying stretched out parallel to my legs and ElsaDaughter’s (yes, there are four creatures of the night in my bed tonight: Christmas party next door and my room’s the quietest). AnnaPuppy is perpendicular (she’d have to be awkward) across the pillows, her paw in my ear, her tail across ElsaDaughter’s head.
Yes, it’s squishy. Yes, one of them will fart. No, I don’t have any duvet. But it’s ok.
When you have a dog, when you love that dog, you are never on your own.
I am convinced that dogs can be trained to be therapy companions for a whole range of disorders and conditions.
Yes, sometimes I get mad if I step in a puppy poo or another shoe has been digested.
I was using the ladies’ room (peeing, where I come from) in a hotel in town earlier and a black lab guide dog came in, I didn’t see the owner. He looked at me, a quick acknowledgement and then stood guard over the cubicle his mistress was in. The focus and patience, better than in many security guards.
I had a weird experience when I got back to the Village after Town.There was a homeless guy on the street in and I gave him two Euro. I usually try to donate to Simon or some such organisation instead but he caught me at a vulnerable “I’m lucky to have a home to go to” moment. Then he followed me to Express Branch of Large UK and Ireland Grocery Retailer where he had met up with mates and was buying sparkling water) and asked why did I tell him to come to my street which I didn’t: I had told him, when I dropped the coin into his crumpled paper cup, smiling, that he should get a hot drink. After he left the shop, he and his (I have to be honest, dodgy looking) begging buddies (I don’t, now, believe them to be homeless, and I’m NOT being offensive) watched me come in through my door. He and his buddies were standing across the street looking up at our windows as I was closing them, pointing up. And not in a “Aren’t they lovely curtains?” way.
So I felt fairly uneasy after that, door double bolted, chained, alarm on, then I remembered (mostly because they ran down the stairs barking at the unknown, unseen on the other side of the door – I hated that bit in Bosco: it was always the zoo on the other side of that fucking red door) that we have two dogs who can snarl and growl with the best of them if they feel so inclined. Sven turns into devil dog if anyone comes near AnnaPuppy or dog forbid (see what I did there?!), ElsaDaughter. AnnaPuppy makes enough noise to rival the party next door. And then I was reassured. Reassurance of safety is a therapy in itself.
So I guess my message is threefold:
1. If you are considering getting a puppy for Christmas, rescue one or rehome one from someone who can’t look after theirs. Don’t pay hundreds of euro for a dog that’s been bred: imagine its poor mammy going through that over and over.
2. If the puppy arrives and is suddenly not so cute and fluffy and adorable: sticking its head in the toilet; eating its own poo; weeing in your Louboutins (put them up high, you silly cow!) or eating your cash (AnnaPuppy, I’m looking at you, you owe me thirty euro…) remember that you too were once a self fouling, floor licking, fridge magnet eating dope and look how you turned out? Stick with it. There will be a mess. There will most likely be carnage. But there will also be love. Lots of four legged love.
3. And finally, train with kindness. Did you learn anything from that nasty nun, the crusty Christian Brother or that terrifying teacher (shiver, memories…) who paced up and down the room and made you recite what you had been supposed to learn off by heart as Gaelige the night before? No, you didn’t. You remember the cool little tricks kind teachers like me taught you.
Dogs are people too. So Sven and AnnaPuppy keep telling me.
*Paw in the eye*