Opinion: Janet Christie's Mum's the Word - with the pandemic came puppies and now everyone has a pooch

With the pandemic came puppies and everyone and their neighbour has a pooch – except me.

Remembering to take screen breaks - it's a walk in the park.

Christmas and birthdays came and went and there was no puppy-sized present - although watching The Specials in the Usher Hall last week WAS a special gift, thank you kids. Live music again, what a buzz and even more appreciated for the looooooong wait.

“Married with a kid when you should be having fun” was all the sweeter now that most of the audience were out of the other side of that scenario age-wise, survivors (witness the massive queues for the toilets when it’s a middle aged audience - the gents’ being the same length as that for the ladies - yes it’s always worth going for that prostate checkup, guys) and surrounded by their grown up kids, all having fun. I love getting older.

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But a puppy? No. The kidults put their collective foot down, pointing out the training, walking, expense, responsibility and ‘what will happen when you go back to the office?’ and ‘dogs are not just for Christmas’, what about Biggie Smalls (the cat), all that. Sigh.

I’ve been reduced to wandering the walkways and parks, lurking in the undergrowth looking for strays I could take home, but there’s always a smug owner enticing them back to heel with treats and bribes.

Why don’t you join Borrowmydoggy someone suggested, but a stranger’s dog? What if they ran away? I’d have to run away too, leave town. What if they picked fights with other dogs? I’d have to pile in, fight the other owners.

Now, however, my friends find themselves changing jobs and after lockdown their lovely lab was in for a surprise as they’re not going to be about as much. This is where I step in as trainee volunteer dog walker. She’s trained, passed puppy school way back, can practically do dressage - and already knows me so, incredibly, does what I ask - as long as I keep the treats coming. She even seems to like me. I get a screen break, she gets a walk. It’s a win-win. A wag-wag.

And the best part is if you have a dog, people say hello and chat, other dog owners and passers by, I’m part of a club, no longer the weirdo lurking in the bushes staring at your dog.

“What a beautiful dog,” they say. “Yes, isn’t she,” I reply, “so’s yours.” But I’m just being polite because obviously, MY dog is the best.

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