Evie - My Dog
It is early on a winter’s morning and I am sitting on a sofa in our kitchen. Curled around me with her head on my lap is a dog. My dog, in fact. She is not asleep. Her brown eyes watch a seagull on the lawn (we call him Gulliver) who pounds the grass like an Irish Dancer, hoping to bring forth a worm. Normally, as I drink my tea, this would be fascinating. Only now I cannot stop looking at Evie. She is a whippet. She has just about grown into her sleek adult self. Her snout is long and elegant. Her expressive ears are curled back neatly against her head. As I stroke her smooth brindle coat, she makes a quiet huff of contentment.
This morning routine of mine is another aspect of my life that Evie has subtly changed. I used to read, scroll social media, make lists for the oncoming day. I used to take note of Gulliver’s progress with the worms. Nowadays, I just sip my tea and admire Evie. I know her face as intimately as any family member. Her tan coat with its dark brindle markings is fascinating to me, probably because of its random quality. It gives her a slightly mismatched look – as though leafy shadows have magically adhered to her pelt to provide the perfect camouflage. And it is this pausing of routine. The stopping and looking, the sheer enjoyment of just being with a dog, that is probably why they are so good for us. I walk more and further just for the pleasure of seeing her run. I sit longer and simply be - just for the pleasure of seeing her rest. When I am in my study writing, her sleeping body stretched out on the sofa bed behind me is a source of companionship and peace.
It’s a wonder to me to have a dog of my own. And slightly strange that life has changed so much that I can have this four-legged friend. For many years I worked as a supply teacher and although toward the end I only taught for two or three days a week – the days were far too long to leave a dog alone. Last year, I decided to undertake that most strange of occupations – that of the full-time writer. Finally, after many years of longing, I can have a dog.
In a strange way, the entire process has made me feel young again, and this is not just because of the extra exercise and aforementioned pleasure in her existence. No, it is more subtle – a memory long forgotten and now revived in the deep companionship I feel.
As a child, I had a Jack Russell terrier called Tiger. We lived far from any other children and my mother, who, with the wisdom of adulthood, I now realise was almost certainly suffering from depression, was seldom in a friendly mood. The happy dog then was just the sort of companion I needed. We went everywhere together. Although I have had many cats over the years and loved them all. And often looked after my sister’s dogs. Having my own dog is different. This is like a friendship restored, a long-lost love reunited. I feel whole again.