Now isn't that fella in the picture handsome? He's Alfie, half retriever half springer spaniel and he now owns a piece of my heart. I'm surprised there was any left, because many dogs already own a piece of my heart, but The Boyfriend and I were dog sitting Alfie last weekend and I fell quite in love with him.
Still love The Boyf, obvs. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd meet someone who is possibly even MORE obsessed with four legged friends than I am!
But The Boyfriend is. Well, I'd say he is. Or at least we are each as mad about dogs as the other. And because we live in top floor flats and haven't been together long enough to commit to a puppy, we have the joy of dog sitting for friends. That’s how Alfie and I ended up doing a selfie.
Now a quick interjection - what's this got to do with being 40?
Well, the thing is, 40 is fairly grown up. There's no avoiding the fact that by this age, you're considered an adult who can choose what they do with their life and how they fill it - children, work, pets.
Many people I know who are tuning 40 have houses and kids. It's fair to say that while 39 is fine, being this age can be considered 'grown up'.
So why no dog yet for me?!! (Stamps feet, whiney voice). Am I not old enough for a hound?!
As just mentioned, there's the flat thing. I don't think it's fair to have a dog and no garden. Dogs love gardens. One of their key purposes in life is to sniff the smells of the outdoors as and when they wish.
The flat thing has also raised something that I'll write about next week - I have upstairs envy. As I turn 40 I feel lacking because I am in a flat, not a house, so I don't go upstairs to bed like a 'grown up'. Home envy is rife among the 39-is-finers, so more of that soon.
Back to dogs. And why I don't have one. YET. So, until recently, there was work. Being in an office all day means dog sitters or walkers or rushing home to free the dog from its day inside. Not easy.
It's a big commitment, I know. I do not take this idea lightly. But I feel like all the hassle will be worth it for all the cuddles with my chosen pack on the sofa.
And now I am freelance again. So my thoughts turn to dogs. Working from home means I could have a dog - yay! The Boyfriend brought me back from the brink of a trip to Battersea with some wise words about focusing on work and, darn it, that elusive garden again. Hmph. (Yes, he's right but I STILL WANT A DOG! Why can't I have a dog? Yes I'll stop whining.. after all am nearly 40, not 4.)
I am not sure if I want kids - even approaching 40 I just don't know if being a mum is for me. But dogs? I am sure as I can be that I want dogs. Not a dog, but dogs. Plural. Five, ideally. Minimum.
I wasn’t always a dog person – not until my parents came home from a trip to Yorkshire 20 years ago with a Border Collie puppy. We called her Sammy (my sister’s first choices of Diana and Crystal were vetoed) and the first time she crawled nervously onto my lap and fell asleep I knew I was a changed woman. The dog stole the first piece of my heart, and made me a dog person. She taught me the joy of seeing a dog leg it across an open field as it smells the post-rain grass, or the comfort of a cuddle when you’re feeling rubbish.
So is 40 the age I'll get a dog? I genuinely hope so. I think this needs to be the year I bite that bullet and commit. It does feel very grown up, very adult, to get a dog. It feels like saying 'ok, I am not just Jenny anymore, I have a dependent of sorts. I have a living thing to look after that isn't myself or the house plants'.
By this year I mean once I've turned 40 and before 41 (just adding that incase The Boyfriend reads and thinks the next book will be Dog By Christmas. Although that's not a bad title.... Dog Blog, anyone?)
I don't know any dog owning friends who regret their decision. And I have enough friends we dog sit for to start a reciprocal community, right?
Dogs can come with me to the pub, and I have a hatchback car, so that's a win. Surely by 40 I can say I'm able to commit to a pup? To give some of my life to something other than myself. After all, I have achieved Girlfriend status, which shows I can commit.
Or is it irresponsible to think that just because I'm at a certain age I can get a dog? I know it's a huge commitment, and life would change. There's also a threat that I'd need to get out of bed earlier to walk or see to the dog. That's a challenge for this non-morning person...
So it won't be this summer - house situations and getting to know each other and all that - but I hope it'll be sometime before 41. There's only so long I can dog sit before I kidnap one... (Alfie, you're safe for now but we need a date again soon, I miss you).