My A-Z autobiography … dogs
I was born into a household of 19 dogs (that does include a litter of 9 puppies) and we never had less than 6 while I was growing up. Dog food is cheaper in Africa, and it was a lot cheaper back then. The many dogs that have brought me joy over the years all had distinct personalities, some gentle, some powerful, few as decided as the dog I own now. The most eccentric was one we had in my childhood, which used to lie in wait for passing male pedestrians, then rush up and tear out the seat of their trousers. It cost my mother a fortune in replacements and she was eventually the best customer at every clearance sale and every church fete within fifty miles, to keep a full range in stock. It took a while to dawn on her that the local male population looked on him as an easy, albeit alarming, way of getting new trousers.
When I moved to the UK in 2000 my current dog was too old to go through six months in quarantine, and stayed behind with family. I was suddenly pet-free, for the first time in my life! I built a strong relationship with my garden (other gardeners will have noticed how, when you go out with a watering can, plants actually push out scents in greeting, right?) but eventually even a friendly garden wasn’t enough. At just the right time a friend’s cat produced an unexpected litter of four, and I was given a ginger kitten which learned to walk on the lead, come when called (sometimes) and greet me rapturously when I got home.
Six months ago I finally re-entered the world of the dog-owner, when I rescued a 7 year-old bulldog-cross which has completely turned my world on its head. Sometimes I look back on my quiet, sedate pet-free days with a tinge of regret, and sometimes, especially in winter when I’m walking the dog in a blizzard, the nostalgia is quite overwhelming. More often, when I return home to a dog wriggling from head to foot with delight and a cat, prudently halfway up the stairs and calling a welcome, I realise all over again that my pets have made my house my home.