10 January, 2011 / General

Great ball of fur

We are never getting a dog. We are never, EVER getting a dog and I’m sick to the back teeth of everyone nagging and pleading and going on…. and, oops, here we are, at Glasgow Dogs’ Trust, having our pre-adoption meeting with a tall, swarthy Italian-looking man who’s drawing things on his whiteboard.

As we’ve never owned a dog before, I’d expected the talk to be about feeding and training and vet stuff. I’m ready for this: during the past few weeks I’ve been sneakily poring over the Dogs’ Trust website, wondering if a wee mutt might bring something to our family. We’ve chosen ‘our’ dog – a hugely affectionate collie cross – and had the home visit, during which we all stood and watched, sweating with nerves, as the dog lady checked our garden’s boundaries. And now swarthy man is drawing his triangle and saying, ‘This is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.’ He divides the triangle into sections with horizonal lines. ‘This bottom section,’ he explains, ‘represents the most basic of needs – security – and this must be satisfied before all the other needs can be met.’ In the section above he lists other needs: play, sleep, grooming, feeding and toilet. ‘Jack is a very stressed dog,’ he says. ‘All the dogs here are stressed so everyone should be calm with him when they come home from school.’

I nod. ‘You should almost pretend he’s not there,’ the man adds.

It’s an hours’ drive home from the Dogs’ Trust and I’m swilling with nerves. It annoys me intensely when people liken pet ownership owning to having a human baby – but the last time I felt this edgy in our car was when we brought our baby daughter home from hospital. There were no nurses then, in our clapped-out Fiat – no handy button to press for help. And now it’s just me, J and our new dog Jack, plus a pile of dog vomit on the car seat.

We arrive home, and pace around the house nervously, murmuring a commentary on his movements: ‘He’s sitting down.’ ‘He’s sniffing your slipper.’ ‘His ear has gone inside out.’ Jack tries to mate with my favourite cushion with the embroidered bird on it.

We sit at the kitchen table, trying to act normal and pretend he’s not there. ‘Why are we whispering?’ asks J.



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