Canine chaos

After months of sending each other pictures of dogs, losing our shit every time we passed one in the street, and me saying to DB, “look, it’s a dog or a baby,” Noodle the Springer spaniel pup galloped into our lives last weekend.

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We thought we were prepared for a dog. We had no idea.

He’s a joy though, and in just one week, he’s enriched my life in so many ways. Here’s what I’ve learned in my first seven days of dog ownership…

You know how when people are planning a wedding or newly pregnant, all they can talk about is their impending nuptials or offspring? It’s the same with a pup.

I only speak in Dog now. My Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles are now totally Noodle-centric, a photo of him is my work computer desktop image, and my mother and I communicate purely in dog emojis.

Puppies are a lot like toddlers.

You have to watch them constantly. Noods is still at the chewing phase, so we frequently battle over shoelaces, hoodie drawstrings, loose carpet threads, hairdryer cables, hair, dressing gown hems…

I’m not especially house-proud (I can hear my mother laughing: “you can say that again, darling!”) but having a dog about the place really focuses the mind on the essentials. As long as I have something clean to wear for work and there is one clean cup and plate, right now, everything else is going to have to wait.

Once a day – usually late afternoon, early evening – Noodle will go beserk for five minutes. He tears round the flat like a demon, has a little bark and a yelp and gets a bit snappy. It stops as quickly as it starts, and is reliably followed by him flopping onto his bed or the sofa and snoozing for a couple of hours. It seems to be the dog equivalent of a child’s tantrum from overtiredness. And to be fair, I can relate – I often feel properly irrational and want to pick a fight when really, what I actually need is to Go. To. Bed.

And if you’d told me two weeks ago that soon there’s nowhere I’d rather been on a Friday night than tramping about Hove Lawns in the pouring rain, trying to get a spaniel to abandon the remains of someone’s picnic, I’d have scoffed at you. But for this guy…

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I’ve uttered words in orders I’d never have predicted.

“Noodle, don’t eat that snail.”

“Noodle, LEAVE the snail. Leave! LEAVE!”

“Noodle, what is it with you and bloody snails?!”

The first time we tried leaving him in the kitchen with the door closed for ten minutes, I asked DB in all seriousness: “Can dogs commit suicide from loneliness?”

We were in the living room, twenty feet away. Noodle had been fed, he had water, he had his toys and a comfy bed. The door is mainly glass – he could see out. The lights were on. But those puppy yelps had me genuinely believing I was being cruel and neglectful.

The pride when he does something good makes me burst. When he settled into silence on Monday night after only a little fuss, I was so pleased with him I had to fight a real desire to go and wake him just to praise him. That feeling only lasted about thirty seconds though because I – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Dogs are a great leveller. Everyone loves a puppy. Young couples, teenage girls, pub staff – if they see a puppy going past, they’ll drop everything to stroke it. Walking home the other night, I passed a group of teenage boys drinking beer and smoking on someone’s porch. Normally, I’d give them a wide berth and hope they don’t notice me – but as soon as they clocked Noodle, all attempts at looking cool were dropped, and they fell over themselves to say hello and tell me how much they love dogs. The most hardened gang member could not fail to be charmed by a spaniel when it turns on the full puppy-dog eyes. (Mind you, I suspect the only gang warfare that will ever ensue in Hove is if almond milk and quinoa are outlawed and we have to start some sort of black market.)

If you struggle with time management in any way, a dog is a silky-eared crash course in productivity. When DB took him out for a walk last Sunday morning, I’d showered, tidied the kitchen, put a wash on and mopped the floor by 8.15. Dogs literally give you more hours in the day – because when you’ve finally got forty minutes where you’re not being followed by four small pattering paws, or having your hair bitten or your toast lunged for, you can tear through a to-do list like there actually is no tomorrow.

There is nothing on this earth that’s as soft as a spaniel’s ears, nothing as gentle as its tongue curiously (and bravely) licking your toes, and nothing so positively heart-warming as a puppy curled up, asleep, and dreaming whatever dogs dream.

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