We’ve bought a puppy. Visitors are queuing up to hold the little bundle of fluff, followed closely by me, the dettol and the paper towels.
It’s all Bonnie’s fault; she’s the dog-lover, and we are not talking whim here; she’s learnt all the breeds, and it’s been ‘Look at the cute dog!’ every five minutes for as long as I can remember. ‘I only have to wait another six years till I can have one!’ she exclaimed the other day - that was what broke me.
‘Alan’ I said ‘I really think we should get a dog while Bonnie’s still actually living at home’. He hurrumphed about. ‘You know nothing about dogs – it’s like having another baby. And what about when we go on all those exciting foreign holidays?’ ‘We don’t.’ ‘What about the garden?’ ‘It has nothing in it’. ‘It would need walking every single day – 6.30am!’ ‘My job!’ ‘Poo?’ ‘Love it!’
Being enthusiastic and excited got me nowhere. Only when I tried to look really grim (this will not be good or fun in any way) did he come round. I’d reserved a hound within minutes, which is how I came to be driving out of Taunton on Sunday morning with a pooch in a cat-basket snuggled in his doggy-mummy’s blanket, bound for home.
‘Leave him in the basket for the journey’, said the owner. But I knew better, and out he came for a delightful cuddle with Mummy at the first service station. I popped him back in, and that’s when the yelping started. Be firm, I thought; he’s just like a baby who doesn’t want to go back in his car-seat. The barking rose to hysterical shrieking, and then... the stink. He’d pooed in the cat-basket and I couldn’t get off the motor way. He was spinning around inside the basket, biting his tail, having a doggy-breakdown. ‘Get me out, Wicked Step-mother!’ he cried. His golden fur was brown and wet with poo, as was the interior of his temporary accommodation. I couldn’t stop in the hard shoulder to stop a pooey puppy crying...could I? ‘It’s all right, Doggy!’ I yelled over the racket, but there was nothing all right about this situation at all.
Three days later I pulled into a Sainsbury car park, and took the pooey puppy (with my bare hands) out of his poo-smeared prison. Armed with a packet of baby wipes, I set to, wipe-wipe-wiping every inch of his tummy, toes, willy, bum, mouth and ears. It was possibly the most disgusting thing I have ever had to do. Doggy-mummy’s blanket went in the bin (bye bye Mummy), along with his new pooed-on doggy toys.
He had to go back in the (baby-wiped) cat basket for the remainder of the journey, which oddly enough he didn’t fancy, so he barked all the way home (two hours). All I had to offer him by way of comfort and distraction was some wiggling fingers (if I fed him he might poo again). I was stressed. I texted Alan to get Bonnie out of the house; this stinky hound was supposed to be the best surprise of her life. He’d needed a bath first – another lovely surprise along with being removed from his mummy, siblings and home, and being incarcerated with his own poo for hours on end – the psychological damage meant we may as well have got a dog from Battersea in the first place...
All dreadful experiences come to an end, and little Archie (named by unanimous vote while I was out) was duly bathed, blow-dried and presented to Bonnie later that day. When the penny dropped that this pup was actually ours for keeps, her look of disbelief and joy brought a tear to Alan’s eye. Alfie was pretty amazed too. ‘Is it second-hand?’ he said. That’s my boy!