Decision to get a dog made, you embark upon Stage Two: finding the perfect pooch for you. They say dogs often reflect their owner’s personalities and can even look like them, so you start asking yourself some searching questions, lie a little about how much exercise you’re prepared to give a dog a day, and go down on your hands and knees in front of the mirror, cocking your head and squinting, to see if any particular breed comes to mind.
WARNING: Never ask any of your friends what dog they think you are, where you’re going you’ll need all the friends you can get.
And the breed isn’t the only decision that needs making: It turns out telling people that, upon reflection, you have decided that no, you are not going to rescue a poor abandoned dog from the shelter down the road, but are planning instead to hand over an obscene amount of cash to a breeder so you can get a puppy with papers, is akin to declaring to a room full of expectant mothers that you’ve decided you are actually, after all, when it comes down to it, just too posh to push.
Secretly you harbour an unspoken and woefully naive desire to make your fortune by creating a new super breed from your pedigree pup. Your husband’s motives are more transparent: he has taken to watching endless You Tube videos of spaniel puppies – it’s clear no other type of mutt will get so much as a paw through the front door.
So you download the Pets4Homes app and start swiping left, rejecting one puppy because it’s in Inverness, another because it’s had its tail chopped off, the whole of that litter because their mum looks like Ken Dodd. Several fruitless hours later it’s beginning to feel a lot like internet dating, in fact you notice that some people, in their desperation to find the perfect pet, have actually posted their own personal ad:
If only the puppies could write their own profiles:
Anyway, with most of the spaniel population being born well over 100 miles from your pug-happy part of the country, it takes a whole two months to secure your first puppy viewing, and you love her, of course you do: she’s a puppy. So she walks a bit wonky, but she’s only been alive a few weeks, it’s bound to be normal, right? You leave a deposit and dance home. Three weeks later when you arrive to collect her you watch her trip over her left ear and then walk into a wall.
There’s nothing in your darkest past of wrong-doing that quite matches the guilt you feel as you drive home with an empty travel cage. To top it off it’s your husband’s birthday, and waiting for him at home when you get back is a surprise birthday/puppy party disaster. You start texting everyone.
It takes a while for the wounds to heal and the search to commence again, but another two months down the line and you’re driving around the M25 on your way to pick up a little Essex girl with a black and tan face.
And so the real trouble begins.