Chickens, goats and dogs

There will definitely be chickens, more than the three we have now. There will definitely be a family of goats, only there’ll have an awesome enclosure so they don’t eat our flowers and clothes on the line. There will probably be a farm cat with kittens after Charlie. I’d like ducks and bees and no doubt the children will have their own pet requests. We’re not dog people but on occasion I wish we had a dog, especially out walking or meeting lovely friendly beautiful dogs. If we had a dog it would be a real dog. Not a small or showy dog. Not a dog for sitting on laps or in a handbag. An outdoor dog. A dog’s dog. I love border collies and red setters and whippets. I love the way they stand tall and proud. Playful, inquisitive and bright. Gentle and forgiving with kids, not too manic but not too lazy.

We agreed no babies after we turn 40 and on Ben’s insistence no dogs until he’s a full time writer, and ideally once the kids are all out of nappies. But the prospect of our very different lives in France and there being a gorgeous native breed to the Pyrenees has prompted us to start to imagine dogs as part of the dream. There’ll be lots of space. We’ll all be home all of the time. We could have more than one dog, a whole pack. They could have a luxurious dog house.

I can never have too much loving company. Dogs exude joie de vivre, bring extra joy around. I can see Ben striding up a mountain with a trusty steed. Stopping to admire the view with his faithful, doting hound. Having not one of us, but a quiet companion alongside I think will make his contemplative walks more edifying and restorative. The children will love having another gang of friends, an extension to their family, play pals.

I spent a couple of hours last night comparing breeds and being practical but prioritising characteristics we would value most, and I have chosen Collies as the breed for us. It was a young Rough Collie called Penny we had as our only ever family dog for a very short time when I was was in Primary school. We gave her up because my sister was too young not to constantly try to ride her like a horse and decorate her ears with hair clips. They’re gorgeous, not big barkers, and they are gentle, friendly and responsive. There are barely any major health concerns with the breed and they’re not too huge. They need to be brushed often but that’s a small inconvenience for such a great fit for our family and lifestyle. Once imagined as part of the picture, the home in our heads looks far too still, seems far too quiet without dogs. Having lots of pets is like having lots of children. Once you throw concerns over convenience out the window, and relax your expectations of your day to day life, you only see the potential joys.



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