I love animals. But much the same as with kids I prefer not to be the primary carer, so I can go be irresponsible.

Brian and I shared care of Pickle, with Mel bringing huge amounts of food and love to the table. That kitten ate well if eclectically, and had good playtime. The two of us would spend hours playing bellypaw on slow mornings and she was always the gentlest beast imaginable. I once saw her catch a big fly in both front paws, then open them up and watch it fly away again. Litter ended up being a big part of my job and I still hoard Tesco bags habitually and pointlessly because they were perfect for disposal. She was cute and reserved and unusual and eloquent and we deeply bonded. She didn’t like parties in the flat, we eventually worked out she liked to have privacy for the loo and to go in the bathroom. If we had noisy guests she would occasionally dirty protest plum in the middle of one of our beds.

Despite all the stinky poo I’ve been missing her terribly since she went off to live in Croydon. Her energy as a shadow, curling up in my heart as I slept, corridor sprinting, occasionally trying to sleep on my face…

When my friend asked if I wanted to dogsit in Barnes for a second night though I didn’t have to consider anything apart from Hex’s slow needs before I agreed. The habitual calculation about how she would be fed has not been necessary since she basically vanished from my life when I was in America.

I wonder if we were too bonded for me to meet her now she’s basically somebody else’s cat. I think I’d probably sit in a parked car and cry for half an hour after saying cheerful goodbyes. I once asked Mel if maybe I could look after her if she went on holiday. She proceeded to tell me what I knew already about how she doesn’t like to be moved and the physiological effect of stress on her, in order to basically say no in long form. It felt like a wall. Nobody has been able to go on holiday anyway this year so it’s moot. And I know she’ll be somewhere safe where she’s loved.

Once this pandemic becomes manageable and understood I reserve the right to suddenly decide I’m going to Peru so long as I can afford it. Or to jump on the Eurostar and start driving through France. An animal makes things harder even before all the ungodly administrative shit that we’re about to be deluged with when we cross previously uncomplicated borders.

It’s been lovely to hang out with somebody else’s doggie. We know each other anyway as he came to Chelsea for a few weeks some years ago. We know each other’s ways and can hang out well together. Outside of their personalities one of the great advantages of a dog is that you have to walk them. We’ve been walking each other on this fine late summer’s day, sniffing around the grassy bits and graveyards and ponds. We had a pub lunch with 50% off and we looked at loads of ducks. Now we’re curled up on the sofa together and I’ll miss him tomorrow and I miss Pickle every day. At least I can go to Paris. Eventually. Maybe. With the right visa.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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