The only time I’ve ever contemplated getting myself tattooed was when I owned a dog. I considered having a banner reading: “Never Get Another Dog, Ever”, on my arm. This was in order to remind myself of the total ball ache that pet ownership could bring and stop me in my tracks in moments of temptation.
Now, ten years since my last dog (a slightly wayward Labrador) died, I’m desperately hankering after a little canine companion. I don’t have the tattoo to remind myself not to as I remain unblemished by ink. I’m not sure if my memories are now skewed by the rosy glow of nostalgia but I really want a dog. I ponder on Poodles, browse Borders and desire Dobermans. I stop and pat strangers’ dogs in the streets and coo like an old lady over a pram. The memories of being unable to go on holiday without elaborate plans and cost, being watched greedily eating every meal and having to hoover up mounds of drifting hair, are all receding. Instead I remember having a little doggy friend by my side and the joy of a warm pooch snuggled up next to me on an icy January day.
I’m conveniently choosing not to recall the horrors of walking in driving rain, the exorbitant vets’ bills and the foul stench of dog food. Instead, I remember watching twitching paws during dog slumber and wholesome, uncomplicated excitement at nothing much at all.
Maybe it’s true of much of life. We edit out the bad bits in retrospect in order to provide a more palatable history. We recall the joy of opening gifts on Christmas day and not the frosty atmosphere that emerged long before the Queen’s Speech. We long for past holidays, remembering baking gloriously on sandy beaches yet somehow forget the crippling hangovers after too much cheap vodka and the terrible row when your partner was caught ogling that German bloke in the skimpy Speedos. We happily recall schoolboy crushes and adolescent yearnings, conveniently forgetting the beating we might have had ladled out behind the sports block.
Luckily, my yearnings are currently thwarted. We simply can’t have a dog. We live in a rented house in urban London and it’s not practical or even allowed. I’ll stick to loping menacingly towards random dog walkers for now. If you see a man in tweeds heading towards you and your Chihuahua at an alarming (and slightly mincing) gallop: then that’ll be me. Please let me tickle your pooch. My intentions are honourable.
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