The Trouble with Dogs and Men

A couple of days ago my twelve-week-old puppy, Bruno, had a bit of a trauma. Well, a lot of a trauma. It happened at the vet’s, where I took him for what was supposed to be a normal, innocuous doggy jab. But within half a minute of receiving it, the poor little thing went all weak and wobbly, couldn’t walk, and eventually collapsed on the floor, much to everyone’s alarm.

Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify that this post will not be consumed with puppy talk, even though at present I am a very puppy-oriented sort of person, rather than a husband-oriented sort of wife. But talking of husbands – or, more to the point, talking of that weird and occasionally wonderful species, men – I do not intend to allow an entire blog post of mine go by without at least some wry observation or comparison of the two hairy breeds in question. But first, Bruno.

“This kind of reaction is extremely rare!” my tried and trusted vet of many years, the lovely Sylvia, lamented. However, not being a woman to allow lamenting to get in the way of professionalism, she got straight on with the job of injecting my semi-conscious fur-ball with adrenaline, and then put him on a drip. Within an hour the situation was under control and my puppy’s life saved. I half-carried, half-walked him back home, braving the inclement temperatures and treacherous icy patches hidden beneath the fresh layers of snow that had fallen the previous day. I just had one purpose – get him home safe and sound. So that’s what I did. And he was fine. Good old pani Sylvia!

But the entire incident got me thinking, as so many of life’s trials and tribulations do. Especially with me being a diarist and a novelist at heart. If you’re feeling scared or shocked or hurt or heartbroken, why not at least write about it? Why not allow future generations to learn from your accumulated experience – that is, if blogs survive into future generations. Not that that’s the point of being a writer. Who knows why we writers write? But we do, that’s all that matters. We don’t ask the stars why they’re out there, so why should we ask ourselves why we write? Okay, lecture over.

So this is what I started thinking about, while huffing and puffing through the snow on my way back home, puppy in arms. Hmm, I mused to myself. That’s the trouble with getting attached to loved ones – whether dogs, men or other beasts. When things go wrong, it hurts, and it’s scary. When they’re sick or troubled, your heart goes out to them. You’d do anything for them. But when they recover and revert to their irritating little ways, then you start to think, why on earth did I get a dog/lover/hubby in the first place? Life was so much easier without them! I was free! I could do what I wanted. Go where I wanted. Make my own decisions without having to compromise, console, bribe or change character.

But then, when your stupid wish comes true and you find yourself without them, your heart breaks and you realise that you were wrong. Life is not better without them; it’s worse. When they exhaust you with their misdemeanours, you bemoan your unhappy lot to the stars (which have a habit of not listening, but you bemoan nonetheless). And when they look at you in guilty love with their adorable brown doggy eyes, or they leave you apologetic love notes in their messy male scrawl, propped against a vase of flowers on the kitchen table, then you forget why you were angry/upset/hurt in the first place. And all is well again. Until the next misdemeanour. And so the cycle goes on and on and on … until one day you find yourself no longer young, but still with the same needs and longings of your youthful counterpart, and you look at the silent stars and sigh, and settle for what you’ve got. And you think: well, all things considered, I guess life isn’t all that bad. The crickets chirp in the summer, the river freezes over in the winter, the dogs and men come and go, and I could be dead. But I’m not.

Life could be worse. I have now got an adorable puppy who is already starting to love me unconditionally, and that is a wonderful space to be in. The trouble with men is that their love is not unconditional. But then again, neither is mine. Is anyone’s love unconditional? Even parents sometimes disown their children, and vice versa. Let’s face it, unconditional love in the human world is something of a fallacy. But in a dog’s world…?

Ah, Bruno! We won’t let each other down, will we? Even when you pee on the kitchen floor yet again, and I yelp at you in exasperation … but a few minutes later, when I’ve cleaned up your little mess and you’ve returned to your basket, tail between your legs, I smile at you and call you by your name, and you bounce over to me, tail re-wagging, and we cuddle each other, and all is forgiven.

Which is the nicer species to love, I wonder? At the end of the day, they’re both hairy.

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