Before I had children, I called this one my ‘practice baby’. She’s never really been a baby though, not least for as long as I have known her; I rescued her as a middle-aged thing, a pair of solemn dark eyes staring out of matted hair and dreadlocks down to her toes. And now that five years have passed, I am almost ready to use the ‘o’ word. Almost, but not quite. She still has so much life in her. She is still such a part of our family.
I have always been a little in awe of how this lady acclimatised to life in a home, after spending her years previous as a stray on the streets and a long-term inmate at a Greek dog shelter. She has embraced everything from cats (they ate rats at the shelter, but cats are our friends) to the Underground, to standing on the right on the escalators. Not to mention, four children. She gave me her whole heart when I brought her home, and I feel the weight of that heart keenly. I am never sure what to call myself in relation to Josephine. ‘Owner’ makes her sound like a possession, ‘parent’ too infantilising, ‘guardian’ suits, but is a little too formal. I settle for ‘friend’.
I don’t know if she remembers how things used to be. When we were a three, me and Kirsty and Josephine and she came everywhere with us, trotting calmly by my side or sat on my lap to peer out of the window at the world rushing past. But sometimes I think she misses me. Misses the time when it was just us and I had forever to brush her long grey hair, watch her snuffle through the autumn leaves, eat out at restaurants “and the salmon for the dog”. I love my new life, but I miss it too. Everything felt simple then. I promise myself that we will walk more, play more, that I will make the time to hold her more, to touch her in ways that are affectionate rather than practical.
I have been trying to find little ways to make her life better. We recently started using a dog walker to take some of the pressure off of Kirsty and ensure that at least a few times each week she gets a proper walk – not one of those toddlers-dragging-their-feet quick and dirty jobs. She adores her dog walker, Lauren, and the dogs she does out with; her joy is one hundred per cent worth the expense, and the hassle of flinging her in the bath after (girlfriend never fails to return caked in mud and bits of leaf!). We have dedicated ‘snuggle time’ after the children are in bed, where I rest my face in her dark fur and gently pull her ears whilst I catch up on social media. My boss laughs at me because sometimes we fall asleep like that, Kirsty on one side of the bed and me on the other, with fifteen kilos of dog snoring between us. But it makes her happy.
Freshpet have asked me to let my fellow dog-owning blog-readers know that Tesco is now stocking their new refrigerated fresh pet food, which is perfect for those of us that want to do a little better but simply don’t have the time. The range has been developed by scientists, nutritionists and veterinarians to incorporate everything your dog needs.
Freshpet tells me that:
‘All Freshpet foods are:
· Fresh meat-based with vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables
· 100% complete and balanced
· Refrigerated for freshness, just like fresh human foods
· All natural, with NO preservatives
· Free of corn, wheat, soy by-products or fillers’
They have offered five readers the chance to win a Freshpet hamper (worth £15 each), including two rolls of dog food, a cool bag, chopping board, bandana, storage tub and pen.