I have mentioned before how much my little family runs on routine. We get up at the same time every day. We go out for our early morning walk, have our breakfast and watch the morning news together. While I shower, dress and put my face on (a la Eleanor Rigby), the girls potter around the back garden, watch the birds at the bird feeder or (in Molly’s case) sit by the food bowl in a not-so-subtle attempt to remind me to throw a few more ‘goodoes’ in there—just in case starvation sets in sometime during the day . . .
Picking up my handbag and keys is a sign for the girls to immediately retire to their favourite sleepytime places (Mabel on one end of the couch, Molly on the other, and Maudie in amongst the pillows on my bed) and to have one last cuddle each before I head off for work.
(There appears to be no such thing as ‘separation anxiety’ in my house. My leaving for the day doesn’t seem to bother the girls at all. In fact, I am pretty sure they quite look forward to seeing me out the door so they can have the rest of the day to themselves to do whatever it is they do all day—after seeing ‘The Secret Life of Pets‘ I think I prefer not to know . . .)
Weekends and holidays are different of course. Everyday routines are inevitably disrupted and for some reason the girls feel the need to keep a more watchful eye on me at these times than they would during a normal working week. Basically they stalk me . . .
When I am reading they will all settle happily with me and soon be fast asleep, but if I need to go to another room I will get up (ever so quietly so as not to disturb them) turn around . . . and find they have all, as if by magic, resettled to that room. On returning to the living room, sure enough, they are all right back where they were before. If I get up to make a cup of tea they will all follow me into the kitchen (although that’s not so very special—they would follow anyone into the kitchen.) I will barely step out of the back door before they have found themselves several sunny vantage points in the garden from which to track my every move.
For three little dogs who usually seem to spend most of their time napping, it must be absolutely exhausting.
And last week of course, not only was I not well and housebound for most of my ‘holiday’, but we were also ‘puppy minding’ a four month old Cavoodle named Cinder. If my girls thought having me home all day for a week was exhausting, having Cinder thrown into the mix just about finished them off.
Cinder was adorable, sweet, gentle and hilarious (as all puppies are) and I thoroughly enjoyed having her come to stay, but it is a long time now (6 years) since we have had a puppy in the house and you forget how much time, energy and space a puppy can take up.
In between (over)dosing myself up on various cough, cold and flu medications I seemed to spend most of the week constantly searching for one of my slippers (always the left one) which mysteriously kept going missing, checking that whatever Cinder was chewing on now was actually a doggie chew-stick and not just some random object she had found lying around the house, or cajoling Molly to come out from under a bush in the garden which she had decided was her new home.
And poor Mabel and Maude. How could they be expected to keep up their ever-protective surveillance of me whilst also constantly looking over their shoulders in anticipation of one of Cinder’s playful (and unrelenting) ‘blitz-bombs’? They were both starting to look somewhat frayed around the edges, to say the least.
But, you know, it’s all good. As I explained to the girls yesterday, sometimes being jolted out of our routine every now and again is a good thing as it makes us realise just how happy, calm and easy a life we normally lead. (The girls listened carefully but their unblinking stares made me think perhaps they needed a just little while longer to process this point of view . . . )
Anyway, Cinder was delivered back to her mum earlier this week, happy, cheerful and, thankfully, undamaged. The girls have dropped straight back into their usual routine almost as if the last week never happened (they barely looked up from their beds as I left this morning) and I am (at least I hope I am) over the worst of my cold, and back at work again. Although I am perhaps not as relaxed and rested as I hoped I would be before the start of a new term, I am consoling myself with the fact that it is not all that long until the next term break and my next ‘holiday’ (11 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours . . .)
Hopefully we will all have recovered enough from this holiday to enjoy the next . . .