To all the people who have ever trained a puppy, I take my hat off to you. I contemplate you with awe and wonder. I do not understand why they do not throw you parades.
Two ex-racing thoroughbred mares, popularly supposed to be the most demanding and complicated members of the equine world, are a piece of piss compared to a puppy. I can deal with my two dear old duchesses in the blink of an eye. They walk when I walk, stop when I stop, do not need to be tied up, understand the concept of personal space, know the difference between a click and a kiss, and generally are like having two ambassadresses to stay – manners are perfect, minds are sharp as razors, all protocols are understood. (The thoroughbred thing is nonsense of course, but only yesterday I saw a poor lady wailing on the internet about having an ex-racehorse she could not manage and all the kind commenters said, sagely, that they are not for everyone.)
The puppy is heaven. He is bright, affectionate, beautiful, funny and good-hearted. He is also, for a human who craves peace and solitude, hell. I use the word with love. He is antic, busy, into everything, fired with energy and zeal, and attempts to eat every single object in my office. Actually, hell is so unfair. The hell not him, but me. Although I’ve read all those damn puppy books, I have not yet quite got the routine in place. I’m so used to the ease and quiet of Stan the Man and my sweet mares that these new demands of out time and play time and proofing the house are against all muscle memory. I have no rigour in place for it and must develop it fast. I feel worn out from missing my mother and all these new needs are quite wearing.
So I have to butch up and step up. Luckily, I love him so much I don’t know what my name is. (He has just, as I write these words, been slightly sick from drinking his water too fast. I patiently cleared it up, saying: ‘Don’t worry, it’s all right,’ in the gentle, slightly weary voice of a tired parent. That is what you do when you love someone.) I didn’t quite see this coming and I’m still bending my mind round the change in my circumstances. It’s a good change; he will be a fine dog and a merry companion. It’s a pointful thing; the new demands all have a good end. But, as so often, I do feel like a bit of a fool. Oh, of course I’ll get a puppy, at my age, with all my responsibilities and my weakness when it comes to order and time-management. Of course that is what I must do. So bloody sensible. Just what the doctor ordered. It is fortunate that I am not sensible, because otherwise I would not have done it, and I would have missed out on one of the great loves of my life. I’ve just got to get damn well organised. Which is an absurdly easy sentence to write and a really quite hard thing to do. Up up up to the plate I step; on on on I bugger. I may have to have a little wail from time to time, but the love makes it all worth it.