I’m going to make an equation I’m not really fit to do, but here goes. Having a dog is very much like having children: You never fully understand what it’s like until you have your own.
I’ve always seen myself as quite a free spirit. Going wherever the wind blows me whenever I choose to do so. Planning out-of-city trips on a whim, saying yes to every opportunity that comes my way and ultimately indulging in the luxury of being a young, unmarried and independent person without much responsibility aside from paying my own bills each month.
But as for everyone in this wide world, the pandemic-induced lockdown and ensuing chaos that was 2020 changed all that and brought about new rhythms. Suddenly, I found myself more isolated than ever before. Living alone used to represent privacy and independence – rare commodities these days. Now all I noticed was the loneliness it brought.
I became sick of online interaction, Zoom rooms, Whatsapp calls, live streams and virtual events. It just wasn’t the real deal. And so, my decision to adopt a dog was very much for selfish reasons: I wanted a companion, another living thing in my house. I considered all the practicalities and the responsibilities that would come with being a pet owner. (The effects on my wallet would hit me later).
But from the very first day I held my puppy on my lap, I knew I’d never want to be away from her again. Long-time dog owners will smile knowingly at my child-like fascination with this perfect creature. The unconditional love and that’s been thrust upon me from day one makes me want to be a better person every day, and I can only try to be worthy of her trust and reciprocate it fairly.
Now, nearly a year later, lockdown levels have changed countless times and will most likely change again in future. But it’s not with a grudging heart I say no to hangouts that don’t accommodate dogs and decline last-minute trips because I can’t find a dog sitter in time. I’ll gladly be a stay-at-home “mom” if it means I get to feel a wet nose pressed against my leg in the mornings when I’m making coffee, and laugh until my belly aches for the antics of that goofball of a dog. Her wagging tail is enough reward and to let you in on a little secret, sometimes I say no to things and stay with her even when there is a dog sitter available.
Picture: Anita Froneman