[A piece I wrote for the MSS book, MS TALENT (published next month) but pulled out for two reasons: 1) I could not condone their recent advertising campaign which failed to support the “progressives”, and 2) it’s the only thing I ever wote that made Tom laugh outloud!]
In fact I hated them. Thought every dog was male and every one, a rampant, raping, pillaging, pooing, parasite. At the very least – even if I couldn’t see them – they were barking, brainless (why didn’t they realise no one was coming and just resign, quietly?) noise pollution. At the most/worst they would bite me, rip me to shreds and leave me dead.
So what is this I now see sniffing round my crippled feet? What is this pair of brownest eyes looking up at me, pleading and tender in the morning light?
And, what, as I sip my wake-up coffee, is this strange sensation of wet-warm licking on my nerve-numb legs?
Is it a dog, Virginia? An actual canine living and breathing in the same space as you? Have you lost your mind?
No, just my body.
I don’t feel like moving today. Don’t want to move. The whole of my physical being cries out: “Leave me alone!” I just want to close my eyes and surrender to the end in peace.
And so, what is this, this bundle of curls, insisting I placate its demanding for food and affection. It’s the antithesis of everything I need, isn’t it?
Well, no. Apparently, aged 54, Virginia has learnt yet one more truth of the world: “A dog will love you unconditionally”. And so she does...
This toy poodle, who isn’t a “what” but most definitely a “who”. Lucy. The only one here, who still wants to be with me. Who suffers my struggles and staggers through the day, just as surely as I do.
And comes running, and licking and loving whenever it’s tough and she knows there’s a need.
And doesn’t mind – in fact, probably enjoys – that I am not washed. When every human being would, and does, turn away.
I look down to Lucy, from the chair I would be stuck in without her, and sure enough she looks up (with those eyes that are prone to conjunctivitis as mine are to optic neuritis) and meets my soul. And I ask her how she is, tell her everything will be all right. And we’ll get there in the end. Yes, of course, I am talking to both of us! And she jumps up, all energy where I have none. So I say, “Let’s get this show on the road!” and sort-of jump up. And she follows, little tail bobbing (I wouldn’t have let them dock the tail if I’d known that’s what they did - thank God now it’s banned) with enthusiasm.
Before I know it, I have fed her some Kibble, hydrated her with fresh water, cleaned up a poo (most in a cat-litter tray, a little on the floor) and given her a love – as I am licked clean by that cute little tongue!
And the day has begun and I offer it to God and thank Him.
And I remember Saint Lucy, the patron saint of those with eye problems and, also, writers.
I might write something today. Maybe tell how I got over my phobia of dogs. And why.
But not before we’ve both had Eyebright (the herb) in the kitchen...
Oh wow, I’m moving again.