As I cradled my tiny little bundle of joy in my arms, this defenceless little soul who is literally relying on me to stay alive, I felt a rush of sheer love and a jolt of absolute terror coursing through me all at once. I always thought I'd do this with a partner by my side. Someone to help with the crying, the sleepless nights, the feeding and toilet training and teaching right from wrong. I never thought I'd be doing this alone. No one to help out and take their turn. Can I do this? Have I done the right thing? I love him so much that the love could easily fill two hearts, and surely that's the most important thing? It's just you and the baby now Lauren. I am a single mama.
Admittedly, he's a dog, but still.
I have wanted a dog for a very long time. I've never had a pet, not even a fish, in my whole life. I had sea monkeys in my first year at university but my mate knocked them over one night and then I no longer had sea monkeys. I think not having pets was a big factor in why I ended up being so fixated on the idea of one day having a pet of my own. Some people who grow up pet-less end up hating animals, others like me stare longingly at pictures of loveable creatures, and feel the need to announce DOG every time they see a dog.
Of course, add to the growing up without a pet, the subsequent adult years of renting, especially 4 years of London renting, never being allowed a pet. The place is a shithole and I am literally paying your mortgage and then some, the least you could do to spare my crumbling mental health is let me have a pet for god's sake! You're worried about the pet damaging the place? The front door is hanging off the hinges and there's mice in our bedroom wall, the place is more damaged than I am!
So when I found myself back up North, and after months of hard work ended up moving in to my own place, getting a pet was a top priority. Kettle purchased, Netflix set up ... now for a dog. I was worried, I'll admit. I'd gone from being a full time comic who was at home a lot of the day, aka perfect for having a pet, to working a day job in a shop. Obviously I'm hoping that job isn't forever, but I did consider whether being out the house a few times a week would throw a spanner in my lifetime quest to have a furry companion.
Also the fact it was a pandemic and EVERYONE seemed to be getting puppies worried me that people would think I was doing it on a whim. I have anxiety, I don't do anything without overthinking it on every level first for fuck sake. I'd started to see angry animal lovers understandably sharing reports and articles about puppies being abandoned after the novelty wore off, sneering at the upsurge in people getting pets. I knew this wasn't just a fleeting decision for me, of course I wasn't gonna ditch something I've wanted for most my life, but the internet can be a cesspit and you still worry people will put you in the wrong category and assume you've got a dog as a lockdown temporary distraction without carefully thinking about the permanent future. But I like to think anyone who's followed me on social media for even a brief moment will know how long I have wanted a dog for, and knew how much this meant to me.
Some people put money aside for holidays or Christmas or recreational drugs, but for the last couple years, I'd been putting money into a separate account to save to get a dog. One day, I decided - fuck it. I have had such a shit year, I think I deserve something that will make me so happy. Surely part of the joy of living alone is you don't have to run your decisions past anyone? Don't overthink it, or you'll talk yourself out of it. You put off dying your hair blonde for years and look how fit you looked when you got it done! You shoulda done it years ago!! Also, a few months into living alone and I was starting to feel how boring the days felt with no one to share the time with. Getting a dog for company seemed a lot more doable than trying to trick another man into falling in love with me. One day, I found a guy with some puppies near me available. That sounds dodgy as fuck when I read it back, but it was legit and the puppy melted my cold dead heart instantly. I darted off on my lunch break at work to see him, demanding NOBODY TELL ME MA I'M GOING TO SEE A PUPPY ... and I fell in love instantly with the stupidest little thing I ever did see.
I came back to work and told everyone I was gonna get him, but STILL NOT TO TELL ME MA. Honest, big up Morrisons cohort who over the following week showed true loyalty to me, rather than my mother who had worked there 15 years, and didn't drop me in it.
The big day arrived and I felt like a kid at Christmas. I was on the phones at work taking customers orders and anytime someone would order pet food I'd proudly declare I'M GETTING A PUPPY TODAY!! Like I was 7, not 27. I half convinced myself with my luck it wasn't going to happen, the guy wasn't going to turn up. But he arrived and suddenly I was all on my own ... except I wasn't because I now had Ralph by my side. And he greeted his new mother by instantly pissing on the floor.
I have had Ralph for nearly 10 weeks now and I cannot imagine my life without him. I love him from the top of his fluffy head to the tip of his waggy tail. Ideally circumnavigating his stinky little arsehole. I found myself just watching him sleep the other day and I couldn't work out what the odd feeling in my chest was ... then I realised it was literally just pure love and adoration.
It does get lonely living on your own, especially during a pandemic when social interaction is even more limited but now, while I don't have someone in the house to talk to, I do have someone to talk at. He might not be able to talk back, but just having this little ball of fluff bouncing about my living room or snoozing on my knee gives me company I really need. The other day I picked him up and danced around the kitchen while singing I Love You Ralphy to the tune of I Love You Baby. I briefly considered if I'd lost my mind but to be honest I was having a lovely time. Never has a dog looked so much like they wished they could say fuck off.
Now I have an actual Living Thing to look after, it's also helped make me feel like I have a bit more of a purpose. I have to get out of bed on my days off rather than lie there staring at the ceiling feeling anxious, cause feeling anxious in bed wasting the day away doesn't feed the dog. He needs walking, of course, which gets me out of the flat and amazingly, as well as adding to the dogs social life as he meets the pooches around the area, increases mine cause EVERYONE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU WHEN YOU HAVE AN ADORABLE PUPPY. Although it has been noted, everyone wants to pet Ralph but nobody ever wants to pet me :(
Ralph loves attention and will demand to meet every person he sees which is a great ice breaker. Today he chased a very attractive boy and I was thrilled to see my son taking after his mother so soon.
When I'm feeling anxious, aka most of the time, just a little cuddle from him, or stroking him, or carrying him around like he's a baby / Little Prince makes me feel a bit more at ease. He used to sleep on my bed and waking up to his little excited face as he wiggles his way in for a cuddle is a pretty great way to start the day, rather than the usual existential dread of laying doomscrolling through my phone reading about the horrors of the world the second my eyes have opened. I am now trying to teach him to sleep in the living room and I'm not sure whether its me or him who gets more excited when he's let in the bed in the morning for snugs. Who am I kidding, it's absolutely me. When he sits when I ask him to, I feel pride that is probably on a similar level to what people would feel when their child gets accepted to Oxbridge. LOOK AT MY GENIUS BOY. HE SITS ON COMMAND! After he wakes up from a nap, he'll do an adorable yawn or stretch, which of course I am contractually obliged as a dog owner to commentate on and announce, to nobody, that that was indeed a big yawn, or a big stretch. I tell him I love him so often he is probably deeply confused and thinks his name is ILoveYouRalph.
Of course it's not all roses. His shits are small but they absolutely reek. I can't get any privacy cause he follows me to the toilet, and on multiple occasions has jumped into the shower with me, which he loved, then got out of the shower and found himself FURIOUS that he's soggy. I tried to have a rare relaxing bath and saw a small paw push its way round the door. I got out the bath to kick Ralph out, and as I stepped out, heard an almighty splash, turning back to see my dog paddling about the bath like he was in the French Riviera. He sometimes accidentally puts his paw in my eyeball when he's stretching and waking up in the morning. He sometimes deliberately puts his paw in my eyeball for no reason. When I'm trying to work on my laptop he wants to get involved and sits on the keyboard or drags my arm away. He activates Siri during Zoom meetings so all anyone can hear is Siri's robotic voice repeating back my frantic plea for Ralph to get off the laptop. It breaks my heart hearing him cry when I leave the house. Toilet training is a patience game, and I never imagined I'd be squatting in the street to check if my dog's done a piss or is just hovering, then showering him with praise and yelling GOOD JOB GOOD WEE WEE at the top of my voice if a piss in fact has been done.
But then he rests his little head on my legs, or curls up at my feet to sleep, or barks at the blender because it is a STRANGE NOISE and I know all the stressful bits are far more outweighed with glorious lovely moments.
My Google search history is also now, quite frankly, ridiculous. Since becoming a first time dog owner I have frantically asked Google -
- what happens if my dog accidentally eats a contraceptive pill
- is it bad if my dog eats a dorito
- is it safe to trim dogs willy hair
how to stop dog humping teddy
- does it mean my dog loves me if he licks me
- does it mean my dog loves me if ge puts his head on me
- does it mean my dog loves me if he watches me go toilet
- does my dog love me
So it might have taken 27 years for me to get my first pet, but he was definitely worth the wait. I have never loved anything so much, even if he's eaten my Invisalign, hidden my credit card and put holes in all my socks. Neither of us is perfect, but we make a pretty good team so far. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him and I don't blame them, he's adorable. I'm hoping he'll become a pretty solid wingman / wingdog.
It might sound mad, that a dog has made me so happy, but I cannot wait for me and Ralph to grow up together. We've both got so much chaos to cause.
tips jar - https://ko-fi.com/laurenpattison