It’s about high time I properly introduced you to the new fuzzy love of my life, Duchess. Those of you who know me well, will be aware that my one singular and consistent desire in life has been to get a dog. Even as a precocious 6-year-old, I was asking my parents for an entire farm, in the hopes that they’d downgrade and just get me a pup. No dice. A childhood of turtles, kittens, fish, bunnies, mice, budgies and axolotls followed (all very much adored). But there still was no dog.
When I was a little bit older I was lucky enough to date a guy who had a fantastic dog, Lucy, with guest appearances by Hugo the Brussels Griffon, and got to know a few other canines owned by friends (including my nephew #instahank, who is also a Griffon). Things just never really lined up for me…
Until this past Christmas, when Thom and I asked our lovely landlords if we could get a pet. Despite our rather archaic lease stating that we couldn’t keep guinea fowl in the backyard, a dog was fine by them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy. There was a quite a bit of kitchen dancing.
When it came to getting a dog, there was only one option: adopting. Personally, I couldn’t bear the thought of buying a dog from a breeder when there are hundreds of dogs looking for homes. It’s the sort of thing that brings me to tears… Admittedly I am a massive softie.
So we headed to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home with our friend Rob to meet some of their residents. We were able to register (and have an interview) on the spot – joining the list so Battersea could match us to the right dog.
So began a two-month cycle of obsessively checking the new dogs page, calling the shelter to see if there were any matches, and buying rubber bones, and the cute paw-printed blankets clearly required. Finally, one Friday, I called and we had a match. I reserved her (which just means no one else could adopt her), and arranged to go the next day with Thom and our flatmate to meet her.
It was love at first sight. Duchess is around 7 or 8 years old, loves carrots, napping in the sun, and chewing her soft hedgehog. She dislikes the cold, being ignored, and all traditional dog activities like fetch.
She’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed which unfairly gets some bad press. Because Staffies are strong and muscular, they’re often favoured by young posturing men who put them on chains and encourage them to fight. Duchess? She’s just a wimp who loves nothing better than plopping on to the couch, or flirting with a sunbeam in the garden. The Kennel Club says they are “Extremely reliable, highly intelligent and affectionate, especially with children.” I can’t help but agree.
Life is so much better with a dog.