How I Fell in Love with a Dog
I didn't see this coming, this puppy love. If truth be told, I agreed to my teenage daughter's pleas for a dog because (a) I thought it would provide company for her in the evenings so that my husband and I could go out more easily, and (b) I realised that I was never going to extricate myself from my desk without being forced. I could blame welldoing.org for that - launching a website is beyond hard work, and as long as you're sentient you will be sitting at a desk, gazing at a screen.
Having done some research on the internet, we drove to Norfolk where a woman's dog had had a large litter. The puppies were a mix of Norfolk Terrier and Border Terrier and there were only two by the time we got there. Romy, the bitch, looked ever so slightly sweeter, we thought. Also, in comparison with the fancier breeds, she was pretty cheap.
Not being what anyone would call a "dog person", I didn't really know much about breeds. One acquaintance warned me against "double terrier", and many dog owners questioned my resolve. Did I know what I was in for? Would my daughter and I be serious about the puppy training? And I'll admit, there have been truly terrible times when the whole house was in a state of uproar over this tiny little excrement machine.
But now, as she hits the six month mark, I look upon Romy with genuine love. She's not prim and primped – in fact, her coat is definitely "rough" and her style is tearaway – but she's a great character to share a walk with. I don't spend a lot of time stroking her so I can't say she's a stress-buster (stroking cats and dogs can decrease your blood pressure) but she's a pleasure-giver. Her tail wags and she runs to me (and various other members of the household, but that's ok) when I walk towards her.
Also, and I hadn't expected this, she's introduced me to another world: other dog-owners. Dr Deborah Wells, senior lecturer in psychology at Queens University Belfast is quoted in The Times today saying: "Dogs are more likely to serve as strong social catalysts and lubricants. They increase the number of people we come across the chat to. That bolsters our psychological health ... our self-esteem is better, we are less prone to depression."
Having Romy also means that I walk a couple of miles a day, outside in parks and green spaces, throwing a ball, unwinding her from other dog's leashes, and generally getting the cricks out of my back and neck.
Photo Steve Ryan for MINDFOOD