I know that I sound like a stuck record but honestly time truly does fly past. A whole month since my life was invaded by an energetic fur ball. In many ways it feels like a lifetime too.

Because I really can’t imagine my life without Poppy now.

Her latest game in the garden is with my Buddy boy. Running up to my kitty and slobbering him with doggie kisses. It is hard to remember now a time when they didn’t get on and it really does warm my heart. And it’s all fun and games – if the cat doesn’t run!

To be honest this week has been a tender one for me.  One of unravelling emotions, migraines and a few nightmares thrown in for added dramatic effect.

It felt raw, exposing, exhausting, and yet beautiful in a gritty and purging sort of way. Unearthing of emotions I have long tried to bury, but knowing that I have to give them a voice in order to begin healing.

And it’s been a week where Poppy has been with me at every step: she looks at me with soft, caring eyes and I imagine she says something really kind like, “You’re so brave. I know this is hard. And I know you’ll figure it out.”

Her tail wags madly, and her bottom sways from side to side like a dancer reminding me to get up and make today better than yesterday. “After all human we have games to play and balls that need fetching!”

As humans (and dogs) we are constantly in process, aren’t we? Not a finished product, but a forever-emerging masterpiece. I like to imagine Poppy’s final masterpiece – a well-mannered trained dog. Or my masterpiece: a human who has survived trauma and found peace with it.

But then the two of us look at each other and we both laugh deep and hard.  This is clearly a journey not a work of art.

Some practical things I have learnt about dogs in the last month that will make you laugh (in no order) – just one for everyday Poppy has been with me:

  1. They eat everything. Nothing is sacred. Poppy has eaten rainbow socks, and paper is incredibly yummy too apparently.
  2. If there is a bone within 20km they will find it and chew it. Extracting it from their mouths is particularly gross.  And if everything is quiet for a few moments you can be sure she is chewing something she shouldn’t be.  Shoes are a favourite.
  3. Training is only easy when you have yummy treats and there are no distractions. Distractions include everything from new people to a leaf on the grass.  It’s not unusual to believe that ADHD might be a real thing for dogs too.
  4. Hadedas are stupid birds and deserve to be chased
  5. No matter what time you go to bed, dogs wake up at 5.30am and expect to be entertained.  They expect a full circus of entertainment highlights with trapeze artists and clowns. And this is before you’ve had a chance to put the kettle on.
  6. No matter how much you feed them, the food in the cat’s bowls or the neighbours dogs bowls is way nicer, and they will shame you for it by telling everyone how they starve at home.
  7. Pet shop owners make a killing off new dog owners. They can see you coming a mile away.
  8. Tennis balls last 10min if you are lucky. And you must keep an eagle eye out or else they will not only chew it into pieces but eat it too!
  9. Walking routes vary depending on where you encounter monkeys.
  10. You will walk further and faster than you have in years. It’s better than you think though. Even at 6am
  11. Doggies creep into your heart faster than you know it. Oh, the laughter they bring! – chasing their own tails around and around, or pooping rainbows (#truestory)
  12. Keeping them off the couches and your bed lasts for about 2 weeks. Especially if they have beautiful blue eyes and bat them at you. If you can beat that time frame you don’t have a dog. You have an angel.
  13. When you are sick, expect every toy to arrive on your bed. Even the mangled bits of old tennis balls. It’s as if to say: “hey human, I can see you are down, so I brought you my toys. They help me a lot, so I’ll share with you…” and they don’t stop coming. When the toys run out anything and everything outside is fair game too. Sticks and leaves are Poppy’s favourite gifts to cheer me up.
  14. The size of the stick doesn’t matter. If they could carry logs inside, they would.
  15. If their toys fail to cheer you up, dogs come armed with wind. Lots of it. And they will let off a real stinker when you have guests around. Proof of all the gross things they have found to eat that day. But they are never embarrassed by it. Instead they are super proud when they manage to drop a stink bomb middle of an important conversation with your guests.  And especially if you’ve spent any time bragging about what a good dog you have. Amount of bragging equates directly to the amount of stink.
  16. I’m yet to work out how dogs walk calmly beside their humans. Currently Poppy walks me.
  17. Dogs will only jump up on people wearing white clothes or on those who are hysterical.  It’s not unusual to want to slap those humans.
  18. People who wear white clothes clearly don’t own jumping dogs. No. They don’t have dogs at all. And it’s their loss.
  19. Laugh off the idea of ever having clean floors again. The more mud your dog brings inside is directly proportional to how much you are loved.
  20. Currently my lounge and kitchen floors are covered with red paw prints. I am loved.
  21. Doggies are truly amazing with their ability to laugh at anxiety in the face. It’s an adventure out there. A world waiting to be explored.  Nothing to fear.
  22. Our daily walks all start off in the same way. Poppy raises her beautiful nose into the breeze and sniffs deeply and I ask her out loud “Does it smell like an adventure Winnie the Pooh?” (I’m not sure why she is Pooh bear or why I’m Rabbit on this adventure, but it is a good image for me.  Maybe it’s from my friend Greg – he always calls me ‘Tina Rabbit’)
  23. Home is where the heart is. My heart is now tied to this paw friend who gives me unconditional love. I hope Poppy knows now that this is home.
  24. Telly and movies are no longer my choice. We negotiate them together curled up on the couch. She prefers adventures. The news puts her to sleep.
  25. Her drinking is an obsession. I can’t believe she doesn’t have to pee at 3am.
  26. Following me to the bathroom is a fun game to play. I have lost all sense of privacy in one short month. What this obsession is about beats me, but it is apparently hilarious to watch me on the loo.
  27. Grooming is getting easier. At first her hairbrush was nothing but another toy to chew. Now she loves her tummy being brushed! The key to grooming is to do it when the dog is half asleep.
  28. If you thought cat hair gets everywhere just wait. Dog hair is a thing of its own – aka husky glitter I believe!
  29. 80 percent of my day is now spent dreaming up new adventures and games for Poppy and I to do together and the other 20 (mostly when I’m at work) wondering what she is up too. This is my new OCD and it’s contagious.
  30. A month truly changes everything. Sometimes I can’t see how a day or even an hour will change my mood or my anxiety. But it does. Truly. A paw print at a time. Until you can’t remember a moment without them.

And my life is all the better for it.

For:

  • The rainbows,
  • The doggie breath, 
  • The pawprints on clean tiles,
  • The new adventures of Pooh and Rabbit.