“Yes, you absolutely can get a dog.”

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As the archive on the right will show, I’ve been somewhat lax about posting of late. Daisy’s been happily blogging away on all sorts of topics, from vintage beauty to beauty boxes, while I’ve just sat silently in the background wringing my hands with guilt at my lack of blog-related activity. I just couldn’t find the time to put fingers to keyboard – and it’s mostly because of this:

Yep, I – the dogless half of this pooch-loving duo – finally got one of my own. Meet Toby the whippet.

It feels like there’s almost too much to write about, so I’m going for a series of blog posts loosely titled ‘Things I have learned about getting a dog’, starting with the biggie:

Yes, you absolutely can get a dog.

I’ve wanted our own pup ever since we moved into our house six years ago but with a pet-suspicious partner, I knew I had to build up to it. He’d never owned pets of any kind, so my creature-packed upbringing bursting at the seams with beasts of all varieties must have sounded completely bizarre – however, I was determined to add a dog to our countryside existence.

Chickens arrived swiftly (because they’re functional) closely followed by the two cats (because they were cute, yet relatively self-sufficient). Then came the long game: four years of gradual, drip-feeding of dog-friendly events and encounters. I pointed out dogs everywhere we went, and was sure to regularly introduce him to friendly pooches. Eventually he started pointing out dogs unprompted, and began telling me when interesting or particularly cuddly canines had been brought to the restaurant.

At the start of this year, things felt different. Unlike occasions in the past when I’d swooned over a particularly cute pup or daydreamed over sad-eyed staffies at the local dog rehoming centre, knowing in the bottom of my heart that it wasn’t right, I knew that now we were 80% there. I had answers for everything: how we were going to care for a puppy in the day while I was at work, what food he would eat, how we would afford it, who would do the training and most importantly: what would the cats think?

One day while idly indulging in one of my favourite internet hobbies – casually browsing for puppies available in our area – I saw one that might have suited us, picked up the phone, spoke to a breeder a short drive from us, and jumped right in. The Monday after that we drove to Ronchanelli Whippets and brought Toby home.

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Too cute.

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The first few weeks weren’t easy due to sleeplessness from his whimpering through the night, and both of us having to learn how to constantly be aware of the location of a small canine. In hindsight though, it wasn’t too bad – and I know this makes me a smug puppy owner – but I think a lot was down to luck rather than our actions.

Apparently, whippets are naturally clean beasts (Toby’s look of horror at his muddy feet after a walk seems to back this up) who hate to mess up their living spaces and he arrived almost housebroken, save a few accidents. He does love to chew, especially now he’s teething, but we’ve been sure to keep important things out of reach or quickly swap in one of his toys so he’s not done excessive damage. Except, of course, to the MacBook cable (may it rest in pieces) – but apparently this is now considered a rite of passage for the modern dog owner.

Our life is obviously different now: on a day-to-day basis we have conversations about who’s picking the dog up when from where, and friends and family members have quickly become willing puppy sitters. The cats have both got over themselves, moved back into the house and even have a new hobby: throwing withering looks at Toby (from the safety of the dresser) when he dances for breakfast.

As both of us were determined not to let having a dog change our life too much, it hasn’t – at least, not in a negative sense. We still potter round town on Mondays when the restaurant’s closed except now we take the dog with us, and one of us loiters outside the shops if they’re not pooch-friendly. He happily rides on buses, tubes, trains and cars, snoozing at my feet throughout. Sometimes I do have to get up a bit earlier to let him out, but this just means I get a cup of tea in the morning and maybe even a walk – plus, on days when a bit of extra sleep is essential, we’ve cracked a way of getting a lie-in. Dog trainers, look away now:

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Good morning!

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The chef now takes breaks in the afternoon to walk Toby through the fields, and we both get treated to Toby’s patented ‘Macaroni Dance of Joy’ when one of us arrives home – which really needs a video to explain. I’ll work on it.

A couple of months after those few days of sleepless pondering ‘did we make a mistake?’ during week one of dog ownership, I now know the answer: nope. Toby’s slotted into our life beautifully and has made us both happier in weird, tiny ways. So what I’m saying is: if you want a dog, and you’ve got satisfactory answers to the major questions – just jump in. You’ll absolutely be able to make it work – and your life will be peculiarly richer for it.

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An Easter walk with the pops and the pup. #ryeharbour

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