I'm writing this blog on a plane, unable to sleep, having sniffled into a hanky for the first three hours. I'm on my way to do the thing I love the most... tour. That's right I'm a musician, with a new album to promote, who lives to tour. For me there's nothing better than seeing the world, hanging with brilliant, (must be funny) musicians, all of us feeling vindicated, knowing we're doing the thing we're born to do. So I'm writing this on a plane that has better internet connection than my house, but right now my heart is breaking just a little. And it's all because I had to say goodbye (yet again) to my beloved hound Doris, who wants nothing more than to see me walk in a room, or just wake up for that matter, throw a ball, show her off to my hairdressers, cuddle on the sofa whilst I watch Turner Classics, wait for the end of my carrot or apple core, spoon with me when my husband's away and she lies on his pillow, hell it just goes on. Now I'm sure there's plenty who would read this and say "excuse me SPOON???".
Of course those are people I could never let in the house let alone have as friends. (Hell our wonderful assistant was approved by our last dog Victor and is adored by Doris). To be fair, I've never been a baby magnet, but if you ARE a dog-lover and know the sheer privilege of having the most loving and forgiving companion (OH, and mood stabiliser) in your life, then leaving for any amount of time....work, holiday, marriage, whatever...is tantamount to a year on the couch!
This very morning Doris stood wagging her tail, tennis ball in mouth, positively bouncing through the house with joy. I'd kept my voice in an impossibly high range to denote happiness and relieve her of the stress she feels seeing the suitcases. Of course the cat just takes up residence in one of them and decides that THIS will be her new home. And yes I'm feeling awful about her too. How do they know dammit? She slept on my chest half the night and then by my husband's face for the other half, almost daring us to move, determined we wouldn't leave.
They say animals are less aware of time passing...God I hope that's right. It's one of the few things that make me less tortured...the idea that when I next walk through the door it'll seem like a minute passed. That and the fact she has a wonderful life with her second family...assistant Pam and her three kittens who think Doris is their mum. Plus she and our cat are besties, then she has acupuncture, massage and aqua therapy at the doggie physiotherapist centre (it's a bloody SPA), for the advanced arthritis she's had since puppydom thanks to over breeding, and even has play dates with the neighbour's dogs, so life's pretty great. But it's me who's a mess! I think of her every minute of every day, FaceTime her (just to be ignored), am emailed daily photos & updates from Pam and get a bit emotionally fragile when eating carrots and apples. It's a wonderful little life if they get the right people. Of course thinking about that is unbearable too, so I try not to dwell (Wallowing a bit I admit), but promise myself to leave less and see her more. And isn't that what makes it all so precious... knowing that you'll outlive your...let's just say it...babies?
All animals teach us it's true, and for most of us who know that ancient bond of man and hound, there's a lot we can learn from them. I swear, going through the illness and death of darling Victor was almost an emotional preparation for the not so different journey with my father. I allowed myself to love and grieve, face my greatest fear... something I could not have done without Victor. I'm blubbing just writing this, but that's exactly what all dog nuts know...that it's all right to cry and play and act like a total love-sick fool around them. We're told it's the unconditional love they show us and yes, that's a big part, but right now, with my mascara running into my mouth, I really think it works both ways...they make it ok for us to love them unconditionally, without fear of rejection, and I'm thinking now of those broken Vets back from the war. Dogs make it safe to feel, hell we should probably take them to our shrink sessions! My friend has Doris's sister and his mother, who's been taking care of his beloved dog whilst he travels, has turned into another woman, (indulging her doggie daughter in ways she couldn't allow herself to with her own kids). He swears she's praying one day he'll get amnesia and forget he has a dog.
But of course like my friend, I will return in more weeks than I care to admit and Saint Pam's love & care will be usurped by ME... the Alpha dog. Doris will almost fall over what with all the hysterical tail wagging when I walk in the door, and she and I will go out for a walk immediately, so she can chase the ball, and I'll get all emotional (good this time), and feel like nothing could mean more to me, or make me any happier in this world,. I won't let myself think about the next tour and leaving again, but instead will try to be a bit more like my smiley dog and enjoy the moment I'm in.