Friday, 12 March 2010

On owning a dog

Hamish was the first dog I ever 'owned'. (Of course, in the end, he owned me, but that's a story for another day).

He was the fulfillment of a thirty-five year long fantasy. As a child in the 1960s, I wasn't allowed a dog, for all the usual city dweller reasons. Then came university, a move to London, an upstairs flat, all the business of establishing a career, periods working abroad, scarcely time even for a goldfish.

Flash forwards to 1999. I am forty years old, recently moved to Aberdeen, the owner of a house with a pleasant and enclosed back garden, the office less than a mile away, friendly neighbours, a park just down the road.

And still wanting a dog.

So it was that Hamish came into my life, a 3 year old Westie, advertised in the Press and Journal by a farmer from somewhere near Fraserburgh. I never did quite get the story straight about why the old man wanted rid of Hamish. Have you ever succeeded in understanding a farmer from 'The Broch'? Thought not. (If you're not familiar with the local dialect, have a listen to the Doric call centre)....

It's rare in life for the reality to improve on the fanstasy, but that's just how it was with Hamish.

The last year and a half of his life was chronicled in my previous blog Hamish the Westie.

A much loved pet is of course irreplaceable. Before he died last month I had imagined that it would be hard, ever, to even contemplate another dog.

How wrong I was. Because it's not just Hamish I miss. It's those chats with neighbours whilst a lamppost is being marked. The fascination of observing a fellow creature whose thought processes are at once so similar and so different from our own. The comforting routine of the daily walk, come rain or shine. The warm soft back to stroke at times of stress.

Over the past few months, and realising deep down that Hamish would not be with me much longer, I tried to tell myself how much easier things would be without a dog. I could go travelling, guilt free! I could stay out late! I could visit places where you couldn't easily take a dog! I could spend all the extra money that previously went to the vet!

But now those new found 'freedoms' hold little appeal.

Nothing feels like it could be half so much fun as owning another dog.


Martha and Bailey said...

Hi Gail, I am so excited! I am the first to visit your new blog - Congratulations!
Everytime I am 'between' dogs I try to convince myself how much easier life will be without one.
It never works. The house is far too quiet. There really is nobody as pleased to see me as my dog/dogs!
I have family, friends, work colleagues etc but confess my life is incomplete with no dog.
So I really so understand where you are coming from.
The best thing for me about discovering dog blogs as I realise there are people out there just like me.
My mother, never a dog person, was always mystified with my love of dogs.
I am so glad that you and Hamish found one another - it is a relationship that will stay with you forever.
Eventually you will have another dog but he/she will never replace wee Hamish.
I can tell you though that every dog finds their own special place in your heart.
I look forward to following your new blog.

The Rocky Creek Scotties said...

Good Morning Gail,

I'm so happy to see you starting a new blog and look forward to the dog that will adopt you. Like you, even though I had a dog growing up, I dreamed of owning a special dog - a Scottish Terrier. And now that dream has come true - at the present moment I have 12 of the little buggers in my house.

Hamish was very special and will always hold a special place in your heart and in ours. But your new dog will hold a special place too and I so look forward to hearing about it.

Bloggers are wonderful, caring people - at least in our circle. When I first started to blog, I thought it might be silly and I would only do it once or twice, but now I can not imagine life without it and without my blogging friends that I have come to care so much about.


Mango said...

Being tied to a dog is the most wonderful confinement ever. Each doggie is special and has a place in our hearts. Hamish will never be forgotten, but I hope that the right new friend comes along for you when the time is right.

Mango Momma

MAX said...

Hey there Gail
It's a treat having you back in cyberspace...and in bloggie-land! Welcome home!
Yes, being owned by a dog is a lifestyle!
We are so looking forward to all the stories and transitions that your new blog will be sharing. All the best and welcome back! I've missed you!!!
With love

Stella said...

Count me among those who have missed you, Gail!

After Otis the Scottie's passing, I went two years without a dog. But because I am profoundly deaf, I just never felt OK without a pup to bark and tell me someone was at the door. So I did some volunteer work at a local shelter. And met Miss Stella. That was it. So now a couple of years (almost) later, I feel like I have had her forever.

You will find that special pup too!

Cheers and hugs,

Jo and Stella

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Edward and I shall devotedly follow your new blog. It will be wonderful to discover the new dog that finds his way into your life.

I remember clearly the heartbreak we felt after losing our big, black Chow Chow several years ago. And it actually took a year for us to become "ready" for another dog. (We did travel quite a bit that year. Stayed out late some, too.) But one night, just before Christmas, we saw Edward's sweet face on our local pet rescue website... which we had been checking regularly... and that was it! And funnily enough, he is like all the soulmate dogs of childhood rolled into one. I couldn't live without him. We also went back to the rescue site a couple of months later and got him a best friend. She was a tiny puppy then, but now they are almost the same size. Edward and Apple make our lives so very happy.

I am adding your new blog to my blogroll now!
Happy Sunday to you.

Butchy, Ruby, Sylvester, Scuby, Hootie said...

Mama could never be without a doggy. It would kill her. Even though she has the catsies now, she would still want a dog in the house too. We still miss Angel Snickers horribly and Mama still cries for her. But soon we'll get another terrier to bring into our hearts. Each dog is totally different, one never replaces the other. We're very happy to have met so many caring pet people around the world that blog. We always feel like we know them so well even though we have never met. We're glad you decided to keep blogging in between having a dog in your life. When you're ready to get another dog, everyone will share your excitement!!
Wirey Hugs, Purrz & Licks,
Butchy, Ruby, Sylvester, Scuby, Hootie & Linda

Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...

We sure have enjoyed your words about Hamish. He had a wonderful life and had the joy of helping to fullfill your poochie dream to boot! We now welcome your new blogging adventure and look forward to keeping up with you.(We always enjoy the beautiful photos with green Scotland as a backdrop.)
AireSmooches & WelshieHugs,
BabyRocketDog and Hootie

houndstooth said...

I can so appreciate your feelings! I grew up with dogs and when my husband and I first married, we lived in an apartment that didn't allow them. It was the first time either of us lived for long without a dog in our lives. When we got our house, we soon found ourselves wanting one. We ended up adopting our first greyhound, Treat. We adopted three others as well. I never thought she'd be the first one that we'd lose. Two of the others were older and slowing down. When we lost her two years ago, I just wasn't ready. She was the only one who was really MY dog. The others all adored my husband and loved me, but not the way she did. I felt so bereft. I really didn't feel whole again until we found another. There were so many emotions at that time. She was so special and so unique! There will never be another like her, but Bunny and I have our own special bond and seeing the world through her eyes has definitely been a healing experience for me. I wish you much peace as you begin to search for a new companion. It's a bit like Christmas, I think, that anticipation of finding a new dog. I hope it goes well for you! :)

Benny and Lily said...

Yea...nice new blog lady
Benny & Lily

Asta said...

Welcome back!!!
I never had a dog untill i moved to NY..many similar reasons to yours, but Asta is now my fourth. As much as my heart feels like it will never mend when i lose one(and the first time, I couldn't believe the pain), I now know that all the heartache is worth the joy and love that each one has brought into our life. In many ways they have been similar, but each also totally different. never a replacement, just a testament to the love that i can't do without
love to you

TwoSpecialWires said...

Gail. Nothing could have pleased us more this morning, than reading the words in this blogpost. Through your incredible relationship with Hamish, you have experienced, been taught and realized the wisdom that dogs have and that they share. The wonderful perspectives on life, on relationships, and most importantly, on love. We know. We are positive that Hamish is wagging his tail with pride at the understanding you have and the intents that are someday around the corner. We are soooo pleased. Moma knows the pain you feel. But she also knows the joys that a dog (or two!) can bring. We are so glad you are here. And that someday we'll meet a new four-legged who will share your life, just as Hamish did. Does. And always will. Your memories will be with you forever. And those same memories can and will fuel the desire to create even more. We truly believe that.

Love from all of us,
Sally (and Nina and Jake and Fergi)

scotsmad said...

So glad you're back. We followed Hamish for a very short time. He was one dog who inspired my blog. Look forward to seeing what the future holds for you.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra and Bella

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan, Yuu-Chan said...

Your words resonated so very powerfully with me. I too long dreamt of having a dog and it was only just over two years that Tommy finally came into my life. He has changed it completely, all for the better, and I know that I shall be totally bereft the day he leaves me. But I also know there will be others, if only to honour the joy he has brought into my lif.

Sometimes, free can be just another word for alone...

Molly,Taffy and Monty said...


Lovely to see you back. Like everybody before me who has posted about not being able to have a dog for simply ages due to circumstances, I too could never be without a dog or two or three now.

You will know when the time is right to open your door to welcome another canine companion and we look forward to greeting him/her to blogland.


Ludo van Doggy said...

Welcome back Gail.
I'm lucky enough to have never lost a dog and I'm dreading it happening. I too don't think you can be without a dog once you've come to know that bond.

The Thundering Herd said...

The joy and heartache of owning multiple dogs is that I have both been through the loss too many times, but also have not known a house without canines in a very long time. Nor do I want to contemplate it. Yes, it can be a pain sometimes to be able to do non-dog things, but I really have found my favorite activities are those where the dogs can participate.

Anonymous said...

Hi there Miss Gail,

My name is Mayzie and I had just started my blog when your Most Dear Hamish passed away. One day, my mom and me spent several hours reading Hamish's blog and even though we never knew him, we felt like we did when we finished.

I am Most Happy to see that you have started another bloggie! And I hope that we can get to know each other better soon!

Wiggles & Wags,

Jazzi said...

I am so glad that you are back and with a new blog. I was like you, always dreamed of having a scottie. We had a poodle for 18yrs cuz the price was right lol After he passed the house just wasnt the same and 3 months later came little Jazzi. Dogs are so much fun and we will be anxious to see what dog you get when the time is right!!

Diana and Jazzi

Joy said...

Hello Gail, I'm wanting a dog also for myself. Have wanted one for quite a few years--I want a black, male Miniature Schnauzer---I have had 2 Schnauzers before. I tell myself all the things you did---the vet bills, not being able to go places, etc. I don't know if I will ever get my dog--at this time, the finances for one are not available, but maybe someday. He would be my little companion and my partner in crime.

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh - I could so relate to your story of waiting for a dog! I waited 30yrs for Honey so not far off you! :-)

I agree with you - once you've had a dog in your life, it's hard to imagine life without them, even though - like you - I do sometimes wish I didn't have some of the hassles like always having to come home in the afternoon to do the walk or never being able to spontaneously go away for the weekend...not to mention all the money I could spend on other things that always somehow end up going to yet another toy or collar or something for Honey!! :-) But you're right - probably those extra "freedoms" wouldn't really appeal anyway, without a wonderful canine companion to share it with.

Great to see your new blog!


The Bumpass Hounds said...

Hey Ms. Gail,
We only met once before upon Hamish passing. At that time we read through a lot of Hamish's earlier blog and realized just how much he was loved. Your comments about how you two connected is inspiring. We were rolling on the floor when we played the phone center piece. It is comforting for our mom and dad to know that there are other people like you in the world that hold their "pets" in such high regard as family members. We're an integral part of the household here and our mom and dad are as appreciative of us as you are of Hamish. We'll be reading through your posts up to, and including, the arrival of Bouncing bertie as your turn the page of your life book to yet another chapter.
- the Bumpass Hounds and Kitties.

Morgan in Pittsburgh said...

Hi Gail - we just found this blog, which has let us to Bertie's blog, and Morgan and Maisie and I will bet there.