It’s Never Too Late to Surprise Yourself.

In my previous post I talked about the ways in which I I might try to move forward with my life. I wrote a list of 30 things that I wanted to do before I turn 30, giving myself just over a year to complete all of those things. This was to inspire change: to do things I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t, and generally saying ‘yes’ to… well… doing more things outside of sitting around eating pizza.

A few days after I (finally) posted my list of 30 before 30 post, I came home with this:


An 8-week-old border collie puppy. A very cute 8-week-old border collie puppy… that needs toilet training, constant attention and an endless amount of expensive safe-for-puppy toys to chew on.

Did I mention that this decision came three-weeks before Christmas?

And that various family members would be staying with me over the festive season?

And that (with the exception of my SIL) no one in my family actually likes dogs?

Did I mention that I was very much a ‘cat person’?

Until recently, I didn’t like dogs. I wouldn’t say that I hated dogs, but at times I felt like I strongly disliked them.  I don’t like it when they bark for ages for no reason. It annoys me that every time you eat near a dog they beg or weep or pester you. I don’t like visiting people who have dogs that attack you the second you walk through the door, especially if its owner is all “DON’T WORRY HE’S JUST BEING FRIENDLY” and the dog is midway through chewing your hand off or something.

It’s probably the dog-owners I have a problem with – especially if their dogs are badly trained. I’ve always found dog-owners a little bit insane detached from reality smelly eccentric. The main offenders are the ones who treat their dogs like people. Or the ones who wear jumpers with pictures of dogs on them. Or the ones who have dog ornaments or pictures of dogs in every room of their house… Especially if every room in their house smells of dog… Especially, if they smell of dog and don’t realise… And ESPECIALLY , if you smell of dog after spending any time with that person.

Dog-owners whose lives revolve around their dogs can sometimes end up a little bit bonkers.

Because dog owners can be a bit bonkers, it goes without saying that their dogs are also slightly bonkers.

And bonkers dogs are unpredictable. If a bonkers dog is the apple of its owner’s eye, then it can do no wrong. So if you’re a small, unsuspecting child happily playing in the park and out of nowhere a dog bites your trouser leg and refuses to let go, chances are, its owner will take no responsibility  for the dog’s actions and, instead, blame you – a small, innocent child (called Jo) playing on the swings.

It is the attitude of so many unhinged dog owners that led to my extreme dislike of dogs.

And then a month ago, out of nowhere, I decided that I should really own a dog. I don’t know how this thought even entered my head – I can only assume that some kind of Derren Brown mind-trickery took place. Anyway, once the spontaneous thought had taken hold, it started to snowball… Rapidly.

The next day, I arranged to go see some puppies that were for sale.

By the end of that day, I had bought a puppy.

Four days later, I was living with a puppy.

And the weirdest part was, no part of me thought that what I was doing was weird. Even though it directly contradicted everything I thought I knew about myself.

Last July I wrote a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30. It took me nearly six months to commit to the idea and actually write about it. Yet committing to the responsibility that is owning, raising and taking care of a dog on a daily basis for the next twelve (ish) years (from someone who has spent their whole life disliking dogs) was totally not a problem.

Owning a dog wasn’t one of the things on the 30 before 30 list. In no way was owning a dog part of my life plans. I never, ever thought I would want (let alone actually get) a dog.

Despite all that, I’m quietly confident that this was most definitely a brilliant idea.

Don’t get me wrong, raising a puppy is hard work. It’s pretty much non-stop, never-ending, wall-to-wall responsibility. She’s cute, but she needs the toilet every 25 seconds, wants to chew everything, be best-friends with everyone and sniff ALL THE THINGS.

I’m beginning to look constantly dishevelled and harassed. My hair is even more of a disaster than it normally is, and I no longer bother wearing make-up or nice clothes because there really isn’t any point. I’m beginning to realise that being a dog-owner doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be eccentric. It’s just that living with a puppy makes you appear a little bit like you’ve totally lost your mind.

I suspect that by this time next year, I’ll be sporting knitwear with a dog’s face on it. And not in an ironic, hipster way.

While I’ll admit to being slightly more bedraggled and chaotic than I usually am,  I’m actually very happy in my new role as dog-owner. Strangely, it’s given me a sense of purpose.

So going from disliking dogs to owning one (within a couple of days) has been a pretty strange  turn of events. On reflection, it makes me wonder what other surprises life might have in store for me. Or, more to the point, I wonder in what other ways I might surprise myself.

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Comments: 4

  1. Rik January 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm Reply

    It was my sincere belief growing up that dogs enjoyed the taste of young human flesh.

    Your dog is cute, despite her repeated desire to chew on my (by now not so young) rear-end.

    • Jo and the Novelist January 8, 2013 at 11:22 am Reply

      Yeah, she has a bit of a thing for sneaking up behind people and nibbling… er… their behind.
      I still reserve the right to dislike all other dogs except my own.

  2. Megan (Best of Fates) January 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm Reply

    Your dog is adorable! And I can’t wait to see the sweater!

    • Jo and the Novelist January 11, 2013 at 9:27 am Reply

      Why, thank you! She is quite the sweatheart. Or at least, when she’s tired she’s a sweetheart. The rest of the time she’s a bit of a nightmare. And I’ll be sure to post a picture on here of me sporting my super-cool dog jumper as soon as I get it.

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