I was brought up in the New Forest and spent many an hour playing in the woods among the New Forest ponies, only to come home regularly with a runny nose and swollen eyes. As it turned out I was allergic to animal fur, not just ponies, but cats, dogs and all things furry.
As a result, I switched my feelings off towards all animals and stayed away from them. I also had a few bad experiences with friends with pets. Some that never bathed them and the smell was very off-putting. Some that let their cats climb all over the kitchen worktops and the table, while we were eating and others that never cleaned after their huge dogs, leaving the whole house covered in fur, resulting in me getting it down my throat and my eyes and feeling really ill. So as a consequence I was totally turned off and completely anti all pets and couldn’t even bring myself to touch one.
The mid-life crisis.
When I was nearing fifty, I suppose you could say I went through a mid-life crisis. The children were grown up with one foot out of the door and I was feeling very redundant. It wasn’t empty nest syndrome, because I couldn’t wait until they left home so I could spend more time on my writing and the house would stay tidy. I bought myself a convertible and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. I’d never bought designer anything before and was totally disgusted with myself at spending that sort of money on a pair of sunglasses. My husband had to badger me to actually buy the car, but I did treat myself in the end. (If you’ve ever wondered why it’s always women of a ‘certain age’ that drive sports cars/convertibles, the answer is simple. They have to wait until the children have their own cars before they can buy a two-seater!)
Apparently, part of a woman’s mid-life crisis involves the broody feeling, but you know you don’t really want another baby and in most cases it would be impossible to have one anyway. It’s the love and cuddles and being needed that you miss, as most teenagers are lacking in that department unless you are handing out hard cash. During this broody period, a relative was breeding Cockapoos and having a puppy was mentioned in our house. I, of course, gave all the reasons for not having one, including the allergy thing, but when I was told it was hypoallergenic and saw the photos of the puppies my heart melted. After a few weeks of pondering about our lifestyle and the commitment of a dog, I casually made a comment that I might consider it. However, the roles reversed and my husband gave all the reasons for not having one (mostly the ones I’d argued) and his decision was final. So I never gave it another thought.
I fell in love!
I’m not sure how it happened, but sometime later I found myself trialling a black puppy for the day to see how I got on with it (I think my husband felt a meany or perhaps our daughter had worked on him). Anyway, when this bundle of softness was passed to me, enveloped by a blanket, I just knew instantly that I was keeping him forever and I haven’t looked back since.
I cannot tell you how much I love this dog – we named him Alfie after a big family debate – and I cannot believe the joy he gives me. He has such a sweet nature, he is good in the car and will pop his head between the front seats and put a paw on our shoulders and look out of the window and he loves camping with us. He even has his own Pet Passport so he can travel abroad.
I never expected to feel so much for a furry thing and not only has he given a new dimension to my life, I don’t suffer any allergies with him, because of his poodle hair.
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