‘Getting a dog was supposed to cure my anxiety – instead it made it worse’

The idea gained traction when, at a local pub, I befriended a toy poodle who would rest her chin on my thigh while I supped a Sipsmith and slimline. I felt an ocean of love for such uncomplicated affection. Eventually, we put out feelers for a hound of our own.

Our first hope was to adopt a dog whose elderly owner, sadly, had died. Fully grown, fully trained, he was a maltipoo (a breed I’d never heard of) and exerted a magnetic pull. 

I penned a heartfelt email. Held my breath. Heard nothing. It later transpired my message had gone straight to spam, like Tess (she of the D’Urbervilles) posting a letter to Angel under the door but accidently slipping it beneath the carpet. Our chance was gone.

When we saw a mirror-image pooch while shopping, we quizzed the owner and one thing led to another, culminating in that momentous January morning with little Eadie swaddled, Paul paternally waiting by the car and me pausing on the steps of the house like an aged Duchess of Cambridge, sporting neither the postnatal blow-dry nor the designer smock as a nod to the late Princess Di.

Our kitchen was dog-ready. Bowls. Brushes. Bed. Baby gate. But instead of the oft-suggested wire crate, we’d gone posh with cushioned cabinetry – think G Plan with the weight of a grand piano. Eadie ignored it. As for the gate, she was so unexpectedly mini, we had to stretch mesh across the bars to prevent her slipping through.

That evening, with Paul returning to Northern Ireland, our strategy was to get Eadie sleeping in the kitchen, so after settling her, I locked the gate and retired to cleanse 24 hours of aeroplane off my face.

All was quiet. Not a peep. Until I realised why. She was sitting by my dressing table, watching the ablutions. Turned out a commando-style op had occurred. She’d pulled the mesh down, formed a ladder and scaled the stairs while whistling the theme from The Great Escape.

Given this technical failure, and in order to save the bedroom carpet, I bedded down with her on the sofa. Unfortunately, I let this develop into a habit. 

If ever I left her alone, she’d whimper and whine until I caved and was back on the couch, Eadie camped on my head like a Davy Crockett hat, me watching Father Brown at 2am while clearing up endless pees and poos through the night. Bless you, my child. House-training became crucial. But my efforts went to shit.

The basic idea is that you take puppy outside regularly, wait for as long as it takes, praise and reward. However, our timing couldn’t have been worse. Not only was it one of the wettest winters on record, the neighbours started excavating an extension. Fences were down. Trenches were dug. 

As I stood shivering, all Eadie did was investigate leaves while I googled their potential toxicity. Only when she was back in the house would she relieve herself. Rinse (literally) and repeat. 

I battled on, still besotted but now badly sleep-deprived and turning down work. I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘It’s only a puppy, for goodness sake,’ but I remember describing her as a baby with no nappy on roller skates. Occasionally, she stopped to chew things. Like Paul’s Thom Browne specs. We’ll speak no more of those.

Simple things became complicated. Putting on socks turned into a tug of war. I ended up balancing on the bed to get dressed, pulling on leggings, wobbling while an eight-inch-high puppy patrolled the duvet’s perimeter. 

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