*In Partnership with Swell UK
“Do you want to go and pick up the new puppy NOW and miss Neighbours, or not get a new puppy at all today?”
I was six. The answer was simple enough for me. I had been pestering my parents for a dog for at least two years. For my older brother, however, there was a slight hesitation as to whether the world would actually combust should he miss one episode of Neighbours.
(This was WAY before the days of PVRs and Sky Plus, remember. Currently asking myself why he couldn’t have recorded it onto good old VHS. We probably had no blank tapes free. Remember those days??)
Athough the decision to get a dog had been thoroughly researched, the final call to say that the puppies were ready came somewhat last minute (this was before the days of mobiles and emails, remember). My dad returned home from work that evening to newspaper on the floor and gleeful cries of “WE GOT A DOOOOGGGG!”. His consolation prize for not being informed until after said dog had been collected and was well and truly ours, was to name him.
Archie was with us for fifteen years. He was with us for everything. Primary school, secondary school, new babies (my sister), first boyfriends and girlfriends, college, university.
(My sister’s personal bodyguard – my mum says he always used to sit by her when she was on the floor).
I was 21. I peeled myself from Sam’s uni ‘floor bed’ at 5am, grabbed a taxi to Brighton station and stood amongst all the commuters in my pyjamas on the London train to say goodbye to him.
The house was so oddly still without him.
I was 23. I drove my sister on the 8 hour round trip to collect him. I was only living at home temporarily after university, and so he was always meant to be my mum’s dog, but really he’s always been everyone’s dog.
Oscar has been with us through some momentous things too – house moves, unexpected pregnancies, health issues. He has watched my two babies grow, and I will always remember the way he faithfully kept me company (never leaving my side, in fact) during the pre-baby part of my maternity leave, when Sam and I were living at my Mum’s, and everything was a bit upside down.
Just as well for me and my ‘list of requirements for a partner’ hastily scribbled during a presumably thrilling university lecture: “Must like animals, ESPECIALLY DOGS”, Sam is a true dog lover, and has always grown up with dogs too. (Although to be honest, I pretty much tailored that list to Sam anyway, as at that point I had a pretty good idea where things were headed with our friendship. Shhh)
For those who don’t know, dogs have this way of getting under your feet and into your heart. With the way they love absolutely and stand by you without question, they become your truest, most loyal friend. It’s never been a question of ‘if’ we will get a dog, but ‘when’. There’s no doubt that we want our children to have the same experience that Sam and I both had growing up with a faithful friend.
But we are already stretched to the limits space-wise, and it would be unfair to add an energetic dog into the mix just now. Then there is also the question of what we would do with a dog should I ever consider a ‘proper’ return to full-time work. So, until we have these factors solved for definite, we will be holding out on the whole dog idea.
Nevertheless, the call to be pet owners is strong. Perhaps we will eventually give in to Arlo’s insistent requests for a cat, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to get a proper fish tank and let the children choose the fish. I’m rather keen on the look of this Fluval Chi Aquarium from Swell UK, which is a good size if you are short on space, like us.
Animals have always played a big part in our lives, and we hope that will prove to be the same for our children. I can’t wait for the day that we get to bring home our first family pet. Not least because I have a LOOONG list of baby names that at some point needs to graduate to the ‘pet name’ list. Ahem.