Dear ladies and gentlemen: I regret o inform you that there will be no column today because the dog ate
I had written a lovely piece about the
impending general election and the odds of
my surviving till then, given that every time
I hear Ed Miliband, see Nigel Farage, or read
about David Cameron’s latest footwear faux
pas, my eye starts to twitch and that vein in
my forehead begins to bulge.
But then, the puppy destroyed it. He looked
at me with those big, black eyes—a few
grains of cat litter clinging to his big, black
nose—looking like butter wouldn’t melt in
his mouth, which it probably wouldn’t since,
I daresay, it would get all caught up in the cat
litter sticking to his soft palate. (Now there’s a
disgusting habit we must cure him of, immediately.) And I knew it was gone.
It’s not the only inappropriate thing he’s
There was that baguette, quickly followed by
four blueberry bagels from what he now clearly
sees as the “carbs corner” of our kitchen.
A day of dosing him with Miralax sorted
out that little problem. But the column? No,
I’m afraid the column is well and truly lost.
You will have gathered from the above
loony ramblings that our family has expanded.
Clearly, at some level, I felt my life was not
exciting enough with just two crazy cats, two
kids and one long-suffering husband to care
for. And so, in August, I acquired Oliver, a
golden retriever/Beelzebub cross.
My daughter picked the name, because she
wanted something with three syllables that
sounded posh, and we’d all rejected her first
His name seems appropriate enough now,
though, because like the Dickens character, Oliver always wants more. More
treats. More attention. More of the
time I would normally devote to
important things like washing my hair or writing my
Our last dog, Alice, bless her soul, died five
years ago. She was 15. Which makes it—hold
the applause— 20 years since I last had a
And in 20 years, I had forgotten a lot. Such
as how exhausting they are.
Sure, they’re adorable. Sure, they have ears
like plush velvet, and puppy breath that smells
like cookies (usually because they’ve been
However, the bottom line is that a pup is
like a newborn. Only, a newborn who can run
around your house creating havoc—and much
nastier stuff—here, there and everywhere.
They wake you up in the middle of the
night, crying like babies. Because…they’re
And although it’s been 20 years since I last
raised a dog, it’s been 23 since I last raised a
baby. And I realise (too late to do anything
about it, naturally) that I am way out of practice on the baby front.
For the first two months of Oliver’s occupa-
tion, I was like a zombie. Sleeping five hours
a night if I was lucky, scavenging for skips
because I was too busy fixing Oliver’s food
to sort out my own. ( The diet sheet from the
breeder specified four meals a day, starting
with warm puppy formula and Weetabix, and
culminating in a late-night snack of two “sweet
biscuits”—preferably digestives or rich tea.)
And washing? Well, frankly, who had the
time? Thank God that my husband was spending so much time at the office…or wait…were
those two things, perhaps, related?
I was so exhausted that I considered sending
Ollie to live with my parents. Just until he
was a bit bigger and better behaved. So, three
years max. Their German shepherd, Mya, a
dog of rare beauty and intelligence, died suddenly this spring, leaving a vacancy at the old
doghouse overlooking Harrington Sound. But
then sanity prevailed. They need a new dog—
something grown up and gentle. Not a heart
attack on four legs.
Life improved, marginally, after I took Oli-
ver to the vet and showed him the diet sheet
from hell. “Oh no, no, no!” he cried, aghast.
“I do not like the sound of two digestives
I didn’t like the sound of it either: “Crunch,
crunch, bark, bark, bark…”
“And,” he added, “scrambled egg with
cheese at lunch is all very well and good, but
we really want to be getting him onto a diet
that’s easy for you. What happens if you’re not
near a stove and a frying pan?”
I tried to conceive of such a calamitous situ-
ation and failed because the other thing that
Oliver has eaten is—my brain.
Still, life is on the up. You’ll be pleased to
hear that Oliver is now on a digestive-free
diet, and instead gets three “sleepy time” dog
biscuits before bed—thrice the recommended
amount, but who’s counting—
crammed full of every soporific herb
imaginable, to knock him for a loop.
With both of us getting a bit more
sleep, I’m sure it’s only a matter of
time before some of my little grey
cells regenerate and I am able to resume normal service, and write about
something other than my pet.
The Dog Ate My Life
That’s Life! A Letter from London | WRITTEN BY WINIFRED BLACKMORE