Is happiness a warm puppy? Maybe, says Candis Editor Flic Everett in her weekly column…
I’ve always been more cat person than dog person. I grew up with cats, pushing them round the garden in a doll’s pram (they were asleep, they didn’t care) and letting them sleep in my bed (wide eyes at my Mum – “No, I think she went out…” as my knees heated dangerously under her furry weight).
In fact, I was always slightly scared of dogs, for three reasons. Firstly, when I was about ten, I volunteered to walk the neighbours’ German Shepherd one day, not realising that she’d set off on the B of the bang as soon as I had her lead on. She dragged me over the ground for several yards, like a rodeo rider thrown by a bull, till I let go and she cantered into the distance, barking violently at pigeons. She didn’t come back for some time, and when I finally returned her, I felt as if I’d done six rounds with Mayweather.
Then there was the time we took the kids to a castle in Northumberland on an Easter break. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo as mist descended, and we walked foolishly into the forest – to be greeted by a Doberman pelting towards us. My son, then aged six, broke free and ran for the trees, directly followed by this hell-hound, as I sprinted after them. Deranged with fear, I found him standing petrified in a clearing as it sniffed round him. We backed out, a step at a time, and threw ourselves into the car as it scrabbled at the doors.
That would have been enough to make me hate dogs forever, but a couple of years later, in Majorca, the villa owners’ dog escaped its quarters and ran to where I was serving the dinner. A huge farm collie, it hurled itself at me, ripping its claws down my stomach and sinking its teeth into my finger (I still have a scar). I was only calmed by the ludicrous, George Clooney handsomeness of the doctor who treated me. (“There are no rabies in Majorca.” “I don’t care, doctor, do whatever you need to…”)
So dogs were not my friends. Till my Mum and Dad decided to get a whippet. He was a terrified folding deck chair, but astonishingly sweet; and it was easy to see the loveliness and vulnerability of dogs in a way I never had before.
I can’t have one because my two elderly cats would collapse with shock – but my partner (who I don’t live with) will shortly be taking delivery of a puppy. He’s a 10-week old springer spaniel and is so cute, he’d break the internet if I shared a picture of him. I say ‘taking delivery’, I will actually be his carer throughout the nine-hour drive to his new home, which may well involve quite a lot of squeaking and weeing on me.
But with my new-found love of dogs, I really can’t mind that much. I don’t think he’ll be up for the dolls’ pram, though.
Read about the amazing dogs who can detect serious illness in the August issue of Candis – out now!