IF, like me, you have a four-legged friend, you will understand the term ‘humans don’t deserve dogs’.
As I sit here typing, I look at my own dog Winston, a Long Haired Miniature Dachshund, and see his big brown eyes peering over at me — and I can’t explain the bond, that feeling of unconditional love they have.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
Why the name Winston? Well he had four names before that. Dustin, Frank, George and Paddington. I just couldn’t make up my mind, then one night I was watching The Crown and there was Winston Churchill — boom, I said that’s going to be the name of my furry friend.
It’s six weeks now since I got him and let’s just say it’s been eventful. When I am making plans, I now by default say “we” instead of “I”. As if he was a human.
To me, how he looks at me — he is almost human — and being honest, I prefer him than some of the human species!
I am trying to crate train him downstairs, but with my room directly above his, the first few nights he cried so much for his mum I had to take myself to the spare room. I have to admit, I am still sleeping in there! Let’s just say I wasn’t prepared for his crying to be this bad!
When a friend called over recently, she asked if I had a lodger as the spare room looked as if it had been slept in. I replied no, and just said I had to because of Winston’s barking. She said I sounded as if we were a couple who were married and fighting with one another.
Funnily enough, there is a woman in the UK who did marry her dog. I remember reading about how she married her Golden Retriever. “I now pronounce you hound and wife”, does have a ring to it.
Now even though I am single by choice (I don’t want any male distractions at the moment) I don’t think that’s ever likely to happen. I love him, but not in that way.
As the weeks go on, I fear I am turning into one of those stage school mums with Winston. It’s something I would never aspire to be — however, I have seen a few things that have symbolised it.
For example, when it came to his house training, I had to make sure he got it right and leave no room for mistakes. A friend of mine, whose dog is five, actually told me that her pet still has accidents inside and this is totally OK... but no, no, not for my Billy Barry Boy — he has to try to be the best.
I swore I would never become this person. I actually could never understand it when I saw parents buying their kids new iPhones, watches, etc. My attitude was: it’s their own fault for spoiling them — they need to cop themselves on. Lo and behold, here comes pageant parent (of a dog, may I remind you).
I am buying him four different beds, the best of blankets, car seats... he even has puppy training classes.
Again, I swore I would never become this person.
As someone who doesn’t have kids, or want them quite frankly, you know those kind of parents who don’t believe anyone else and see their child as gold? Well, that’s me over Winston.
Last week, a friend commented that my dog snapped at her. My reply was “snapped? How could my little boy have snapped? You must have imagined it!” No way, sure not my brown eyed boy — he is exceptional.
I really am turning into one of those helicopter parents — or should I say paw-rent. Inside in my head, I am wondering — what is happening to me?
This weekend, I am going on a hike with my friends so I will be gone for most of the day — and I booked him into the kennel overnight. I swear, as soon as I hung up the phone and spoke to the woman who was going to look after him, I had a bit of mom guilt.
I sat there thinking, will I be able to go the day without talking about him or getting updates?
I felt like one of those parents who had a once-off babysitter for a night on the town, but the ones who never shut up about their kids.
Then you have the parents who have their kids on Instagram and Facebook — a huge pet hate of mine. “I don’t want to see your kids on your profile, I am friends with you, not your kids,” was always my thinking.
However, what have I gone and done? Set up an Instagram account for Winston himself (Walkies with_winston is his username, if you must know)! Now, in fairness, I have given him his own page, so if people don’t want to see him on my account, they don’t have to.
I think I am spending more time on his profile than mine. He even has a step challenge going on. But the funny thing is, some people live for his little updates as he brings them so much joy. I hope to get him doing some ads some time as, quite frankly, he looks much better than me.
To be honest, I walk around the place with him like Simon Coveney walked the Queen around the English Market. Head held high. And people actually smile like Pat O’ Connell when they see him and his little legs.
I do actually have notions that I am like the Queen walking him. He just makes me so proud. I think it’s because he is such a friendly dog. OK, he is a little wild also — sure, look who his owner is, and they do say they take after their owners.
One thing I have observed — I am very slow to ever trust a man who doesn’t like dogs. I was onto a guy on Tinder some months ago and he said he ‘hated dogs’ as I had ‘dog lover’ on my bio. Safe to say I unmatched him a few messages later. How could you not like a dog?
Now, if you were bitten before by one, I get it, but for no reason — that’s a sign! He told me he preferred cats. Sure, a cat will leg it from you the minute they see something better coming and a cat will eat you before a dog would!
While Winston is eating my shoes and knocking over the clothes horse — I still do love him. I have never seen a tail wag as much as his and that brings me great joy. I can actually see him smiling and I’ve been told he’s one of the happiest dogs people have met.
I have actually contemplated asking a few nursing homes if he can be a guest visitor for a day, as I know he would bring so much joy to the residents. Sure, he’s better than any doctor. A dog for the day, keeps the doc away, I say!
On the day of my birthday earlier this month, while driving along the link, the old me could have thought “no boyfriend, not married, no house, no mortgage, etc.”
But no, I looked at Winston, looked at the blue sky whilst going over the Kinsale Road roundabout, glanced across the city, and said: “I have got it all. I have my dog and happiness and that’s all that matters in the world.”