Every writer should have a dog – and cats, lots of them. Although, as someone who used to be terrified of dogs (after being savaged by an Alsatian), that’s a pretty radical statement coming from me.
The benefit of having pets in your life is well documented, and a quick trawl of the internet will show you that cats and dogs seem to feature in the lives of many famous writers.
This story is mostly about my dog, Tully, although I’ve been the mad cat woman since I was three years old and was introduced to an energetic tabby kitten intent on running up the curtains at every opportunity. He grew into a soppy, easy-going family pet who was my confidante and playmate until the day I sat my second ‘A’ level English paper (sad story).
A dog wasn’t ever going to feature in my life. Even after I grew out of being afraid, I was never keen to get to know one better. After all, cats are all you ever need, aren’t they? Wonderful writing (and life) companions, they’re drop dead gorgeous to look at, have an admirable attitude (‘worship me, be my slave, don’t expect much back in return’), and can lie around being companionable but silent for hours at a time.
Plus, cats are non-judgemental, never commenting about my grammar or punctuation, they don’t complain about what I’ve cooked for dinner, what I’m wearing, or my hair style, and they never make remarks about the size of my bum. They don’t shout when I’ve burnt the toast, and they don’t know any toe-curling swear words, nor do they notice if the kitchen floor needs mopping.
So, what’s there not to like about cats then? Well, they can be distracting sometimes, but in a nice way. Check out Simon’s Cat for a humorous take on what it is like living with felines (you’ll need a few hours to waste, beware!).
I managed for years without knowing dogs. Then, in a moment of weakness nearly ten years ago, I caved in when my children whined in unison (a rare thing) about us giving a neglected puppy a good home. The dog needed rescuing from an unhappy, caged-in existence, and I’m a sucker for a hard-luck story.
My girl Tully arrived in the Cole House, and now I can’t remember what life was like without her.
Sadly, she’s gone a bit lame recently, unable to keep up with me on our walks up the lane.
I like to walk. And walk. And walk some more. It frees my headspace, and I’ve created some of my best poetry covering the miles of countryside around our home. It also helps me to stay reasonably fit, a busy dog being the perfect walking companion so I never feel lonely.
But I started to realise that in dog years, Tully is now getting on and has overtaken me in age, so no wonder she’s slowing down a bit. I’ve threatened to trade her in for a newer model (as if!), although I know there are a good few years left in her yet.
It’s just that lately, I’m seeing less of her in the great outdoors racing up the lane, and more of her in super-relaxed mode, draped across the armchair as I sit at the laptop pounding away at what may become a best seller (another, as if!).
I need some new poems, so I’m hoping the imminent arrival of Spring will encourage us both outside a bit more and Tully will regain her long-distance walking capabilities.
Either that, or I try training one of the cats to go walkies with me (yes, I know: as if!).