Nothing Like a Dog

It hasn’t taken Jip long to realise the lucky dawn walk she had last week has become a welcome habit. If I get up, get out, I have realised, I get going. Settle to write better, feel the slow glow of achievement before 8am. Otherwise I scroll though a screen and then scowl when I realise how much time I’ve wasted. I found Jip at my bedroom door before 6 this morning, whilst it was still dark, crouched on her haunches, as if ready to spring to action. 

Sometimes I worry what would happen if I lost her.

Just get another dog, a friend says.
But any old dog won’t do, will it? It’s never ‘just another dog’. They become as friends, with distinct characteristics and foibles and habits and expression.    Jip’s the most loyal dog I have ever had. Perhaps because she’s only had me and I her since Pili died. Perhaps that’s forged a deeper alliance; a more important union. She sits under my desk as I write, her black coat gleaming for all the avocados she forages on the farm. No matter where the desk, she wiggles beneath it and settles at my feet, as a pillow. If I relocate with my laptop during the day, she relocates with me and settles fast, never apparently surprised at my nomadic wandering when the words won’t come. She is only ever agitated before breakfast. And before a walk. When her patience wears thin.

There have been so many before her … Kima, gifted to me by Ant when we first got married, who kept me company in a strange new country and who lived to a very grand old age, Caesar, her son, who was hit by a car and killed, Marmite who died of tick bite fever, Kanga who I adored and lived until she was ten, Scally her daughter who was dotty and adorable, Pili who was poisoned and now Jip. I have travelled miles with my dogs, over borders, across Africa. I cannot imagine walking without their company.  Who would I whistle up? Who would I have to warn me of something I mightn’t have seen or heard or caught the scent of – and I think of Jip last week, her hackles raised like a fin along her spine so that I knew to watch more sharply, tread more carefully? Who would I talk to? Who would I laugh with when they bounce Tiggerish through long grass? And if I didn’t walk as often, twice a day, at sun up and sun down, I wouldn’t bear witness so regularly to my permanently evolving views shaped by weather and hour and time of the year so that I’ve seen Kilimanjaro white headed one week and and bare headed  the next depending on the snowfall, so that I’ve seen the mountain moody grey and blushing at sunset. I’d have missed those things without a dog at my side, to walk with , to watch with. So that there’s time to stand and think and collect myself as I lean to scratch her head.

Who would make me get up, get out so that I get going?

One Response to “Nothing Like a Dog”

  1. Addy Says:

    I miss my dog Freddie so much. I had to put him down 7 years ago and not a day goes by when I dont think of him. Sometimes I think about getting another but I don’t miss the fact I could never go anywhere without him so my ”freedom” comes at a price.

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