I got talked into getting a puppy. The last time we had a puppy, it was an Absolute Disaster there is no other way to describe it. A beagle, brought into our lives at the height of its tumult. Cancer, dementia, infertility, beagle. Anyone who knew anything about beagles–about cancer, dementia, infertility, puppies–looked at me with horror in their eyes, and they were right. I had no idea how to care for a dog, let alone a beagle, and it was an added stressor I really did not need.
But while we were living in Abu Dhabi, we grew used to having a dog in our lives. In response to the needs of my youngest boy–I’m serious when I say he didn’t just want, he needed a dog–we fostered a little white terrier that was waiting until it had its rabies jabs cleared before it could join its family in Australia, and then adopted a wonderful dog. She was about nine years old when she came to us, a corgi crossed with a german shepherd and about as far from a beagle as you could get while still being a dog. She was what dogs used to be, back in the days when getting a dog was as simple as waiting for your neighbour’s dog to have a litter and there was none of this putting yourself on waiting lists with breeders. She barked when anyone knocked at the door and they stood on the other side frightened until they opened the door and saw her. Short, tail-wagging…beautiful old thing.
We brought her back to Adelaide with us, but she got older as we all do and one Saturday the end of her life came much more quickly than any of us had been ready for, but it was the best way to die. One bad day, surrounded by people who love you.
It’s funny that having a puppy has made me notice the space where our beautiful dog used to be. It reminds me how it was to be greeted by her every time I came home, or got up in the morning in the way that only a dog can do. ‘Oh my god, you came back, I had no idea you would come back, this is the best moment of my life.’ And when I was lonely, the only adult in the house, she would sit, quietly, just being with me. I had never been a dog person before, but she turned me into one.
And now we’ve got this puppy and it is the sweetest, cutest thing on the planet. As much as sometimes I do regret the passing of time, I like the way this puppy reminds me that life is easier than it was all those years ago when that beagle came to stay. Because when I look at this puppy I’m not terrified.