Therese: Once bitten, twice shy

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Some memories are indelibly burned into my psyche. Rural living would be one of them. I mean let’s face it you can’t wear Louboutins in a field can you? At one point during our thirteen-year sojourn in the British countryside, my family wanted a dog. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but you know when you’re outnumbered.

With hindsight, I should have insisted on a purse-sized mutt–a spaniel or a Chihuahua–because Sandy, the hyperactive border collie that came to live with us, turned out to be mad. It’s as simple as that. He was a stark raving insane out-of-control lunatic. I have a hyperactive thyroid, but this dog made me feel like a sloth on Valium.

It may seem obvious, but if you don’t have sheep, you don’t need a sheep dog. Sandy the dog, had a pathological need to round things up. I fully expected to come home one afternoon to find the postman and a couple of visitors corralled in a corner of the garden. I was getting up in the dark at five o’clock in the morning in the dead of winter to race around fields with him because I couldn’t risk the kids being dragged across a main road or have him break loose and cause a pile-up on the freeway. I’d come back from these marathons and he’d be leaping up and down as if the previous two hours had been a warm-up.

I wasn’t free to leave my own house. I’d open the front door and he’d charge over and mug me. One day, it took three complete changes of outfits before I finally managed to sneak out the back door to work.

In the end I called an emergency family meeting.

“Either that dog goes or I do,” I told them.

There was a pause, a little too long for my liking, before everyone agreed that we would all be happier, including Sandy, if we were to find him a more appropriate home. He lived out his days on a farm. Although by that stage I would have happily seen him roasted on an open spit in the medieval banquet hall at Warwick Castle.

We also bought two guinea pigs around that time, which we were assured were both female. Twelve more guinea pigs later we realized our mistake. I think the chickens may have overlapped with them. My memory is not reliable here; I’ve blanked out a lot from this period of our lives and would need trauma counseling before the full details could emerge. I do remember discovering Sandy the dog with feathers in his mouth and that being the end of the fresh eggs. By the way, if you ever buy chickens, don’t get Bantams. They look really cute, but the eggs are about the size of a pea and you end up knee deep in chicken shit and still have to buy proper eggs from the supermarket.

Of course in California we have “Doggie Day Care,” a service that to the best of my knowledge is not available in England. Here you get a daily report on what your dog had for dinner, which other dogs they spent time with, their mood and general progress. You can check them into The Club in Beverly Hills for an afternoon of grooming and massage treatments while you pick out a seasonal wardrobe for them. You can send your pooch on a mini-break to Paradise Pet Resort, a facility designed for the more privileged of canines.

You can keep a dog in LA and have absolutely none of the work that goes with it. A dog walker’s no problem. You can book house calls to shampoo, manicure, and pedicure your pooch, and there’s a neighborhood dog poop removal service. Here I could have a sanitized live accessory. It might even be fun, but you know what they say: once bitten, twice shy.

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Thérèse is the author of India’s Summer and Letter from Paris. You can stay up-to-date with her blog posts here.

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On January 20, 2015
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