• Nathalie Curtis

At Last My Puppy Comes Home

Updated: Mar 14, 2018

How the arrival of one little fluff monkey changed our lives forever....

An ill wind whistled through the air. Charcoal grey clouds scudded across a bruised & scornful sky.  The wind whined through the naked branches, and yet the sound of birdsong was eerily absent.  A skinny dog yelped past, tail tucked firmly between his sinewy legs. Brown leaves scuffed under foot, even though it was May, and incredulous neighbours, hiding behind their Venetian blinds, tutted under their breath & averted their eyes.  Some even fell to their knees. They could not believe it, it just couldn't be so.  It just was not possible! But yes, it was true. That Mad Woman had brought yet another animal home.  What they didn't realise at that moment was that they were witnessing history, for this was the moment I stepped out from my car, into a brave new world.  I held Bailey aloft like that creepy little monkey from the Lion King,  and proclaimed to my neighbourhood, 'Behold peasants! For He is here!' I was ecstatic. I had eventually brought my puppy home, and all was going to be well from now on.

We stepped over the threshold, and the dawn of a new era began. This was a whole new world, unchartered territory. I would be lying if I said that there hadn't been sleepless nights, wrestling against a deep sense of foreboding, worrying whether or not this would be the right move. But I had inherited a tiny bit of money, and I knew that if I didn't get my long longed for dog now, it would be swalloŵed up by banal shit like new tyres, or fence panels. So, as I have done before a gazillion times, pondering every new life decision, big or small, agonising over the minutiae of each possible outcome, my neuroticism eventually wades in & holds a gun to my head, and I just think, 'ah fuck it, what's the worst that can happen?' My mother was ok - I've already mentioned the menagerie that I grew up in. If she can handle it, so can I, I proudly boasted to myself. (We'll gloss over the nervous breakdowns).

So, this trembling, simpering little ball of curls & teeth dropped into my life like a Molotov cocktail.  He was so adorable, I immediately loved every single curl of his chocolate coat. Freddie, my then 2 year old ricocheted between extreme excitedness & complete nonchalance. Andy, The Grump, bore his cross with stoicism & I couldn't believe my luck that I finally had my puppy. My cats, Moloko, Shere Khan and Stitch scattered to the four winds, and I now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that peace was forever banished from the household.

We came home at about 16.00, and the whizz of fur, teeth and nail immediately started in on my feet. Those teeth are like razors! I panicked, but dug deep, it couldn't last forever.  He eventually (finally) started to snooze at my feet at 10pm.  It was a beautiful moment, & I felt the beginnings of a true bond starting to form. I left my precious ball of fluff, in his crate, with his mother's scented blanket & teddy, and we retreated to bed.  Then, when the household would usually fall silent- an almost religious moment - the whining & the yelping began. I had expected as such, and had imbibed half a bottle of Merlot as insurance, but Dear God, even then,  I still felt as comfortable as if some one had peeled all my skin off & turned me inside out. Poor little blighter! , Every whimper was like a dagger to my heart! My dismay was palpable, - I felt like a funeral director who had brought the entire cortage to the wrong graveside. I'm sure Andy would've gleefully tossed himself into the nearest open grave.  And believe me when I say it felt like it went on hours, or at least one episode of The X Factor (which feels like millennia).  My heart broke for Bailey, as I emphasised with what he must be feeling, so alone, frightened & scared.  I hoped that Freddie would never feel any of these feelings, and a tsunami of maternal instinct flooded my body. I knew that I would always love this dog as if he was my second son.

However, the next day;-

Bugger me backwards with a pitchfork, I had no idea how completely overwhelming puppy ownership would be!  It literally is like having another toddler. But that toddler is also ADHD & without a nappy.  I now have the reaction speed of a ninja warrior crossed with a T1000 model Terminator, lighting paced to stop Freddie's favourite toys from being chewed, or little toddler limbs munched on.   I no longer sit down during the day at home, but instead stand, half crouched, kneels bent, and arms  stretched akimbo  as if defending myself from 2 attacking velociraptors. One arm out to stop the dog from jumping up, the other to stop Freddie from jumping down or  lumping the dog.  Like swearing, and nudity on tv, my sofa is now strictly post watershed.

Andy, Freddie and I have had to adapt, over night, to the addition of this tyrannical little wolf. Unfortunately, the cats haven't made the same effort, which I consider really rather selfish of them. Now, on top of everything else that needs to be done, I have to carry 3 cats to & from their food bowls, and up and down the stairs. In the early days I had to take Bailey out for a wee every half an hour, and Andy has had to try and let go of his obsessive love of clean soft furnishings. Obviously, 9 months later this is still a work in progress.   We have had many bitter rows, and I cannot tell you how many times I have been in floods of frustrated tears. A pill all the more bitter to swallow because I know this Hell is entirely a creation of my own.

But my God, how sweet time on the sofa is now!   Andy and I collapse on it, about 9pm, like deflated helium balloons, all bleary eyed and battle weary. Sometimes we can barely speak, but those strained silences need no words. We put our feet up to watch some trash on the old Idiot Box and it is bliss.  It always used to be great to get to wine o'clock but now, like so many other parents before us, it is as if we have achieved Nirvana before bedtime.  Luckily, we have been blessed in that Freddie is a good sleeper. And for that, & the puppy who  sleepily woofs at my feet, I am eternally grateful. I am SO grateful.  And come the summer, when the cats will all want to be outside, I will be doubly grateful because at least then they won't be constantly on at you every 5 minutes to be let in or out. But it's not their fault, poor things, and hopefully one day they & Bailey will co-exist more peacefully.  But until then, there is always Merlot, and TV that can be paused.  So cheers to those whose children are not good sleepers, hopefully your day will come soon.   Until then, bottoms up and think always, it could be worse, you could have a puppy, 3 cats and a Grumpy Old Man too.


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