Pets are pointless; they are only with you for food (which costs money that could be spent on other things) and shelter and they don’t really love you back. So why bother?
I grew up with cats all the time, hens a lot and for a short spell, some fish called Snap, Crackle and Pop. The hens were easily my favourite as they gave us fresh eggs nearly every day – and that answers the ‘why bother?’ question, for me. One day when I was perhaps seven years old, I decided to pop on my rollerskates to go the 10 metres down the garden to collect these eggs. After tucking the five still-warm eggs into my pockets, I realised I didn’t want to just skate the 10 metres back to the house. Instead I went next door and, with both the skates and the eggs still on me, climbed one of the trees. I got a bit stuck and although not too worried, a passing neighbour helped me down and I went back to my home. With all the luck in the world at least a few of the eggs should have been broken but somehow, there was not even a hairline crack in sight.
I had thought about getting some hens as an adult (and rollerskates, actually!) but by the time I was in theory most able to, I became chronically ill. Tom and I have half-joked about getting a butty for our narrow boat, which could host some hens as well as grow some fruit and vegetables. The truth is that most of the time I’m particularly happy when I can do half the cooking, and get out the boat a couple of times a day. Giving myself extra jobs is not the answer – at least not for now.
When I first met Tom (more on that in the next blog) I didn’t think much about the fact he had two dogs. I’d never been scared of these animals, just – like with all pets – not that bothered. I had just had someone rent a room in my house with a cat and the cat ended up driving me mad: when I got up in the morning it would get under my feet and generally terrorise me until I either let it out or fed it. Because it went all over the house, the hairs followed too. So when Tom and his dogs moved into my house for a few months before we moved onto the boat, I should have had more concerns.
The thing is about dogs, I found, is that they can be kept in one part of the house without too much trouble and therefore not get in your way either by their presence or by their hairs. I eventually plucked up the courage to walk the dogs around the nearby wood by myself when Tom was out one day and since then have learnt so much about them. At the time I was struggling to learn anything new because my migraine brain wasn’t taking much in, so it was such a relief to know I could still learn. I’d been walking around this wood frequently for the past 18 months but had rarely stopped to talk to anyone. However, with two enthusiastic dogs in tow suddenly it was rare to not talk to at least one other person usually – but not always – another dog owner. This was probably one of my first answers to the ‘why bother?’ question for dogs, as chance conversations with others has always been a favourite pasttime. Plus it meant I got to talk to more people at a time when my social life was particularly sparce thanks to migraine meaning planning social activities was (and is) almost impossible.
Tom will occasionally voice how they are a pain in the arse; if we go out for a few hours or just talk about going away for a night somewhere there has to be a plan for the dogs. If we wanted to plan a trip around the world (think positive, right?!) then that could be a 12-year plan. He insists they definitely do love you; total admiration in fact. Perhaps I’m still on the fence with that one but that doesn’t mean to say that I don’t love them unconditionally and perhaps that kind of love we can give to another is better than anything we can receive in return
The dogs will bark if anyone comes near the boat in the middle of the night and they will lick food off the floor when I have been my usual clumsy self – food like mayonnaise being particularly difficult to clean and particularly tasty for pooches. They make me laugh and sort of give me cuddles but they don’t bring me cups of tea, so I think I’ll make sure I keep Tom around – after all I need to know why I bother with him, too…
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I’d love to hear if you’ve had any similar reflections/experiences. Subscribe yourself to get emails when i write more blogs (roughly every two weeks.