Thursday, 5 September 2013

Puppy love


So I finally have my third child. A lovely, little boy with a full head of hair, beautiful, almond-shaped eyes... oh, and a tail. Am I mad? Barking. Both my (real) children are at school, life is getting easier, weekend lie-ins are no longer just an aspiration... and what do I do? I take on an eight-week old puppy. A black Labrador with big, floppy feet and a bladder that can barely make it through the night. And, who needs an alarm clock when your new baby greets the dawn with a high-pitched howl? Hello sleep deprivation, my old friend, it has been too long. 


Pickle, the black Labrador puppy
Look what the stork brought!
It was actually my daughter who campaigned tirelessly to get the dog, but I would be lying if I said I was opposed to the idea. I have played a quiet hand, knowing that she was best placed to wear down my reluctant husband. So is the puppy my desperate attempt to reclaim motherhood? As my kids become less dependent, am I plugging the gap with a dog? Can I only exist if I am needed? 

All the rituals of preparing for the puppy's arrival were spookily familiar. Since June we have been writing to-do lists and going on spending sprees at the doggy equivalent of Mothercare: Pets at Home. Dutifully my husband built him a cot, sorry crate, to sleep in and we agonised over a name, until we finally settled on 'Pickle'.  

Puppy toddlerhood is now upon us. We spend our days toilet training, shaking toys, removing foreign objects from Pickle's mouth and heading off canine stunts on the patio steps. Earlier this week we even took him to a 'post-natal' puppy class so that he could play with other dogs! However, for all the challenges, looking after a dog is parenting lite. When we need a break, we shut him in his crate and escape the house for a couple of hours - with no associated visits from social services. 

Yesterday the kids went back to school and, thanks to Pickle, I didn't feel quite so bereft. His wiggly, waggy-tail welcome made the house feel less empty when I got home from the school run. And thankfully he can't yet utter those words I have heard all summer: "Mummy, what shall I do now? I'm bored!!" He just digs up the lawn instead. 


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"I absolutely loved this book and will miss the family that I became so involved with over the past few days. I hope Emma has another book in the pipeline!" 
-- Annabel at CountryWives 


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