Photo of Linda Rodin:

I went to one of those relentlessly self-improving Guardian Masterclasses the other evening, says Elaine Kingett. ‘How to change your life,’ run by a life coach. I quite like mine already, but am always open to input on how to make things a bit better – and every envelope deserves to be opened by the eternally optimistic single woman on the look-out.

We had to team-up with a partner; someone we didn’t know who was sitting next to us, and deduce what our life values were and how to get more of them. ‘Tom’ quickly decided that mine were Freedom, Harmony, Independence and Nature. Not bad for 15-minutes work. I wanted to take him home and put him on a shelf. What I did already know was that I want to be fitter, sleep better, drink less, laugh more and play more and – guess what? Seems like getting a dog would sort it all.

My last one toddled off a couple of years ago at the grand old age of sixteen-and-a-half. A chilled-out Border terrier, he had enough resilience, attitude and love to entertain and comfort my family through cancer, death, a myriad of house moves, relationship break-ups, childhood dramas and university successes. I used to harrumph loudly when the bloke in the newsagent called him my ‘partner’ and repeatedly cursed the early mornings and late nights that I had to drag him around the darkened streets of Brighton or London, but my partner he most certainly was – and never under estimate the social life you gain with a dog. People smile at you in the street because you must be nice, you have a dog! Especially if it’s not a growling, grumpy fighter-boy sort of dog. Small children approach you and their mother’s don’t drag them away.

I give in. I want someone to talk to indoors, to cuddle and to watch telly with. I’ve given up on men. I’m getting a dog.

Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and Wales and workshops in London; for more information check out Write It Down.

21 thoughts on “Woman’s best friend…

  1. That dog of Linda Rodin has a certain triumphant bordering on smug look in it’s eye, it has the life of Riley and knows it.
    I’ve long wanted a dog, though living in Central London doesn’t offer the best walking .I see myself striding across the Cumbrian Fells with a Border Collie in my ideal world .

    1. Extrella…I see myself running well kind of running with a French Bull Dog on the beach.
      However, my adult child of 31 is severely allergic to dogs…and I couldn’t bear him not seeing him once a month for pasta and peas at my place…even though he says mom…get one….

      I love my boy better than a french bull dog…so …I bought a gilded bull dog (no kidding0
      …it is next to my sofa. And both my sons..say they are “worried” about me. 🙂

      Anyway I freaking loves dogs. And Linda Rodin and her accessory are wonderful. Smiling here just looking at them.

  2. I am a cat person, and find solace in their quirky affection and independence! It’s so de-stressing just seeing them chill out each day while I sit at the screen, sometimes starring blankly. Certainly pets are perfect partners (don’t tell my hubby!). As to Elaine’s ‘writing down your life’ retreats, I’d be on one of those for the locations alone! What’s not to love about that amazing villa in Andalucia?! I am just wondering about that massive epistle I’d write on my life and whether it would really be therapeutic reviewing the past. I tend to be the kind of person who just ploughs on without too much navel gazing. But, you never know, it might just provide some of the bits of the puzzle that are missing!

  3. Oh Liz, do come! Celebrating the past, writing down the present and creating a future are incredibly rewarding adventures!

  4. Elaine you do make me smile, I love your writing.
    I bet if they tallied up what everyone guessed their partners life values were there would be just half a dozen all the same. Humans are all basically the same right?
    For us having a dog is a right of passage growing up. Both my husband & I had dogs as children so 2 years ago we got Blue, a Boston Terrier, for our three kids. We waited until they were old enough to look after him but that was a joke because of course silly Mummy does it all! Although I complain, I don’t mind really he’s an absolute sweetie, my fourth child in fact. He even sleeps between Hubs & me under the covers!
    I hope you do a follow up, I’m desperate to know what kind of dog you ended up getting.

  5. I live in London and had a much loved Patterdale Terrier, a rescue dog, for 17 years. Like Elaine, there were times when I cursed having to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to walk her; or to rush home from work to feed her but those thoughts were fleeting. She gave me so much pleasure, loved me unconditionally and I know I gave her a wonderful life.

  6. I am trying to achieve a simpler life: less clothes, less shoes, less furniture, fewer appliances at home, less make up and no dye at all in my hair; but there are two things of which I want more: pets and travelling

  7. I still miss my beloved Border Collie who died two decades ago. I’ve toyed with the idea of a dog again but you know what? I can’t bear the thought of more eventual loss and for some f***ed up reason I can’t make all the pleasure of the intervening years cancel that out. Talk about making life hard on yourself…

  8. Rex is my friend and companion, without him I would be classified as a recluse. I’d stay in bed till noon or even later then sit around in my pajamas for the rest of the day, watch telly till late at night, then repeat.
    Rex has me out of bed in the early hours of morning striding through trails, enjoying all kinds of weather, being thankful to be alive and healthy at 71.
    Rex is my 7 year old, 100 pound German Shepherd and I love him dearly.

  9. I lost my little love, an 8 lb., fawn coloured, poodle-terrier mix. He was my first child and I cried deeply watching his health fail as he approached his 17th birthday. On that special day, my son and I took him for his last visit to a local park. A few days later, our beloved pet had a peaceful and quiet death at the vet’s. This happened last summer.

    I now am waiting for another dog or cat (as my daughter prefers) to “find” us…. maybe some time this year.

    I don’t miss the walks… even if they were actually the healthiest thing I did most days. However, I do miss having a pair of chocolate brown eyes gazing at me with unadulterated love. (Some might say humans project that emotion on to our canine companions. I say phooey.)

    Good luck!

  10. I’d love a dog but my circumstances (full-time carer for disabled husband) mean I couldn’t walk him/her as often as required. We have a cat instead – superior, food-fussy, attention-seeking narcissist – but my dog-need is assuaged a bit by my ‘grand-dog’, my grandchildren’s rescue dog, who thinks I’m God (as opposed to the cat who thinks she’s God). On my weekly ‘free’ afternoon, we go for a long walk together and I sabotage all the house rules about extra feeds by sneaking him biscuit treats. He’s allowed on the sofa at my house too. (Oddly, I follow parents’ rules about the grandchildren to the letter!)

  11. Hi Alyson. After my beloved dog passed everyone around me knew I would struggle with not having a pet. After a while I gave up Facebook for a new form of social media, the Pet Finder app. I stalked that app daily, knowing I would rescue a baby or young dog. I filled in applications with ever rescue in the area in advance of adoption so that I would be ready as soon as the right dog came along. It takes time, but it was completely worth it. We have Bowie (yes, a tribute) and he is now a 1 year old poodle-ish and truly delightful addition to our family. I HIGHLY recommend rescue. It takes time, but all things in life that are worth it do, right? And no, you cannot get a “designer” doggie, but what you do get is the feeling that the universe tapped you on the shoulder and said “you and you will be together”. It is special and then some. A quick word of advice if you do go that route.. We used very specific tactics to ensure that we were getting a dog we could manage, met our puppy and tested his reactions to things like dropping keys and commotion to see if there may be some underlying stuff beneath the cute. There are lots of articles online if you look. And listen to the rescue, they are not selling you a dog, they are placing in a forever home, so they will steer you right.
    Best of luck in your search!

  12. We have always had Border Terriers, we said goodbye to our last, aged 17 last year and I still look for her when I go into a room. She was feisty, adorable and much loved. We moved house just before and she hated it. I am not sure we will get another but we have visiting dogs and enjoy them so much. Enjoy your new arrival!

  13. I’ve just adopted an 18 month Shih Tzu cross called Willow. She has her issues (don’t we all?) but together we are working on them, getting fit and building confidence. Also I swear I haven’t slept as well in ages. And my two grown up sons actually spend time with us now. It’s love!

  14. A) Adopt don’t shop.

    B) There are tons of “senior” dogs that desperately need homes.

    C) If you are ready for full time commitment, you can always foster.

  15. It’s a big step , but you obviously realise that . The walking & walking friends are great but a tired , sleeping dog is lovely too – very relaxing . Can I put a word in for rescue dogs ? There’s sure to be a Border Rescue place & it’s lovely to see them become happy again . Good Luck .

  16. I mean this in the most positive way, but Linda Rodin and her dog could easily win a Owner/Dog Look-Alike contest!

  17. I love animals but my allergies kept me from having a pet as a child, and now react to some animals, but not all. I have wanted a dog for some time now, but as I work full time, I have put that idea on the back burner until I am at home more. I found the most wonderful cat through our local humane society a few months ago, and he is my perfect partner. He’s a mature adult (almost 7), very affectionate and talkative, and loves to play. He’s more like a dog than a cat, and we were definitely meant to be together. A rescue is definitely the way to go – there are too many dogs out there who need a loving home and will show you their gratitude for giving them one every day.

  18. My first comment on your fab blog site….

    The very best EVER !!!!

    What a lovely group of marvellous humans.

    Allyson , Best Wishes from V ictoria Australia..Thank you for your great forum

    So ,So wish I was living in UK…so your blog helps !


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