One afternoon, I was walking to school to pick up my two older boys, and pushing my toddler Liam in the pram. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in the park, and my son was babbling away with all his cute toddler noises. I was in plenty of time to enjoy a nice, slow walk. I was very happy.
But then I noticed I was being followed – by a dog.
A little tiny one. Like the ones that rich women have in movies, but this one was shaggy. It was as small as a cat. And although it was occasionally stopping to sniff at other dogs’ poo in the undergrowth, it always scampered along on its tiny little legs to catch up to me, shyly keeping a distance, but definitely following me.
Some people would think this was cute, but I REALLY DON’T LIKE DOGS. All of them, and everything about them. Whenever I go to a friend’s house who has a dog, I have to really force myself to pretend that I like my hand being licked, my groin sniffed, and being pushed over. And I pretend this because I know that most people like dogs, and I don’t want to offend!
So I ignored the little doggie and just kept going.
But whenever I looked over my shoulder, there he was, loyally following me.
I kept ignoring him, and he kept following me. And then he ran in front of the pram. Liam saw him, and excitedly said “Doggie!”.
I realised I was walking into a trap. If Doggie following me, and he got hopelessly lost, he would become my problem, right?
Or, what if Doggie got run over by a car crossing the road after me? Sure, I could just pick up the dead, pizza-shaped dog by the tail and throw him in the nearest rubbish bin, but what if someone saw me?
And what if he DIDN’T get killed crossing the road, and he survived all the way to school? My kids might fall in love with him, and then we’d have to take him home – and live with him! I would have to spend the rest of my life picking up Doggie poo off the lawn!
So I stopped, and shooed Doggie away, waving my arms at him.
Because Doggie thought I was playing with him. ARRGGGH!
Now he felt we were best friends, and he was literally and happily trotting along by my feet.
He was so close that I could see he had an identity tag around his neck. I stopped the pram, bent down, and read the tag. And while I did this, Doggie rubbed his wet, poo-sniffing nose on me, and licked my hands. EEEEWWWW!!
The address was right around the corner from my house, only five minutes walk away.
I was determined to get rid of Doggie, so I turned the pram around, and started walking back towards Doggie’s house. And guess what. Doggie didn’t follow me. He just SAT DOWN in the middle of the path, like I was going the wrong way.
And then I did something I still can’t believe.
I picked the dog up. With my bare hands. I held the dog on my hip, like a baby, with one hand, while I pushed the pram with the other.
I felt like one of those rich women in movies.
Doggie was in heaven, and made snuffly little noises of excitement. I felt humiliated and unclean.
Doggie smelled like a dog. He was dry, but he still had that dirty, musky, wet dog smell that old carpet has just before you decide to renovate the house.
I suddenly remembered a joke in my family about poor Chinese people eating dogs when they were short of food (which is apparently based on real events in my Grandparent’s time). Hey, I remember helping my Dad catch crabs and fruit-bats to eat when we lived on Christmas Island, so eating a dog doesn’t seem that improbable.
But little Doggie probably didn’t have too much meat on him. Maybe the same as one big chicken? Still, that would keep a family going for a couple of days.
After the longest five-minute walk of my life, I found the house, knocked on the door, and gave Doggie back to the lady, who hadn’t even realised Doggie had escaped. She was so grateful to have Doggie back since he was sick and needs glucosamine, I was thinking maybe I should have held the Doggie hostage, and asked for a reward.
She offered me a cup of tea, but fortunately, I didn’t have to lie to her to escape – I now really was late to pick up my boys from school.
As I power-walked to school, I was still grumpy, but also relieved that Doggie made it home safely. I realised that I was experiencing a deep internal conflict – although I just don’t like dogs (probably for irrational reasons), my maternal instincts had made me take Doggie home. He was little, and lost, and innocent – just like a toddler. And if someone who just didn’t like children found one of my kids wandering in the park, I really hope they would still bring him home to me (maybe I should put identity tags on my kids, just in case).
But I was also so irritated by the whole event, that I was inventing dog meat curry recipes in my head. Would dog meat be like lamb, or more like goat?
I made a mental note to look on the internet for dog meat recipes – just out of curiosity.
That way, maybe even I could learn to like dog(s).