What do you do when your life has got a bit simpler?  You know, when the kids are able to take care of most things themselves and you feel like you have established some semblance of a routine.  You get a dog, that’s what you do. 

Well…you try to get a dog.  We tried to do the right thing and go down the Dog’s Trust route only to be met with a sea of cute little doggy faces, each above the legend that read “NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 16”.  So we bought a puppy and almost a year on from that fateful day I thought I’d share with you a few observations so far……

Having a dog does terrible things to your wardrobe

You see the woman in that picture?  That’s me.  On holiday.  That’s what my holiday photos now look like: waterproof coat that packs into its own pocket.  Waterproof trousers that have an elasticated waist and no pockets so you can’t actually get at anything.  Walking boots – WALKING BOOTS!  I put this on and thought “oh my christ, is this actually my life?”.  Even the dog is staring at me as if to ask “Are you really going out dressed like that?”.

Having a dog does terrible things to your wardrobe – part 2

You see the woman in that picture?  That is also me.  In it, I am wearing a coat that I liked very much.  It is from North Face and is extremely warm.  It has now become my “Dog Coat” and sports a stain that I cannot figure out but which makes me look like I have been lactating.  It could be from the last time that the dog had his worming treatment at the vets and then rubbed himself all over my jacket…

You may also notice that I look tired in the picture.  Having a dog makes you tired.  Especially when you get a dog that needs a lot of exercise.  Or one that wakes up early in the morning.  Or one that does both.

Having a dog does terrible things to your house

You know those big plastic tub/bucket things everyone has – useful for transporting garden rubbish / filling with kids toys / filling with ice & beer (hurry up summer!) – well they’re also very good for putting in massive holes that your dog has dug in the garden.  He has stopped digging but we are yet to fix his landscaping.  I fear that we’ve left it too long and it’s now become a ‘feature’.

Our hallway – when not bearing muddy paw prints – looks like Depeche Mode have dropped round for tea.  It contains a variety of leads, collars and harnesses.  Let me tell you a little bit about them:

  • The classic harness – sports a ‘handle’ so that you can grab your dog as you vainly try to get him back on the lead.
  • The Halti harness – claims to “stop pulling instantly” – does it f**k.  My dog could use it to pull a car up the road in a World’s Strongest Man competition.
  • The ‘Gentle Leader’ face harness – also claims to “stop pulling instantly”.  It actually does.  What it doesn’t tell you is that it will cause your dog to every now and then stop and rub its face along the ground in an attempt to get the thing off.  
  • Normal lead – padded grip – nice 🙂 Now held together with gaffer tape because it got caught on the velcro of my Dog Coat and all the stitches started to come out.
  • Halti training lead – longer than a normal lead.  Bloody uncomfortable.  Takes a layer of skin off your hand if your dog pulls.
  • Extendable lead – never, ever allow your dog to say hello to another dog on an extendable lead.  You will end up in some kind of Twister manoeuvre with the other owner.

The stairs is a mixed bag.  We are back to having a stair gate.  I have been very earnestly informed that “it’s entirely possible to train your dog not to go upstairs, don’t you know” but after spending five weeks trying to combine working from home with instructing a dog that he may not go upstairs, I found the five minute installation of a stair gate the equivalent of a magic wand.  Also, nobody leaves their shit on the stairs anymore because the gate seems to act like a magical force field – double result!

But why am I telling you any of this?  Because if you are going to get a dog you need to know that:

Having a dog does terrible things to your bank balance

I have considered asking my customers to pay me in Pets at Home vouchers.  Toys last two days, food lasts two minutes, leads need replacing and pet insurance is the one insurance that you will without a doubt need to use.  You will need to buy terrible clothes to walk the dog in and a grille to keep your dog safe in the car oh and a crate that your dog will refuse to sleep in past the age of 4 months and a rug to replace the one that he chewed a hole in when he was a tiny pup.  You may also like to spend money on dog training which will be by turns enlightening and maddening – some lessons you will come away from feeling smug and others you will leaving feeling like a twat.

And just when you get to the point when you think, “Why the bloody hell did we do this?” – this happens:

and you realise that for all the terrible clothes, terrible marks to the house and the terrible impact to your bank balance, they’re completely and utterly worth it 🙂


Want to hear some stand up about the ‘joys’ of having a dog? Please book me – I need to get out without having to put on waterproof trousers!

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