Five things I’ve learnt about having a dog.

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Hi, I’m Mick!

I’m an English teacher, and today I’m talking about having a dog.

After two years of gentle persuasion, in December I finally said yes to my girlfriend and…we got a dog. I’d never had a dog before (or wanted one), but, in December last year we picked up a six-week old puppy, and named her Peggy.

Here are 5 things that I’ve learnt in those six months.

1. Sudden popularity

One of her first walks

People you don’t know stop and talk to you just because you have a dog. Obviously, it’s Peggy they’re interested in, but as a language learner, I wish I’d known this happened before – I’ve practised my Spanish with more random strangers on the street in the last six months than in the previous 9 years!

2. Everyone has an opinion

Relaxing in the garden!

There is so much contradictory advice online about how best to train and look after a puppy, it’s extremely confusing.In addition, every other dog owner you meet also has an opinion of what you should be doing. You can guarantee dog owner A’s advice will be the polar opposite of dog owner B’s advice.

The worst, though, are the strangers you meet who’ve clearly never actually had a dog, but give advice based on anecdotal evidence anyway, It usually begins with something like ‘well, my cousin knew someone who had a friend that had a puppy, and…..’

3. There’s always time to walk the dog

Peggy has a fixed routine and when it’s time, nothing will stop her wanting to pee, pooh and go for a walk.

Peggy hits the town!

She simply doesn’t care if it isn’t a good moment for me or not. I might have mountains of emails to send, posts, or lessons to write, student writings to mark….But, once I take her out, I always enjoy it. I realize that I have more time than I thought, or that what seemed urgent can actually wait an hour.

I usually end up looking for the longest possible way home.

4. Dogs are really sociable

I never realized quite how much dogs hate being on their own. Peggy really, really, really hates it.

We didn’t want her in our bedroom, so we put up a barrier. From the other side, she could see us, but not get in. As the video shows, two weeks later, we had to look for alternative solutions. Just look at the sheer determination to be with us!!

As she’s got older, she hasn’t got much better at being on her own – unless María is in the lounge too, I can’t even go to the bathroom without her following me!

5. Dogs grow on you

It wasn’t a promising start. Being kept awake on her first night with us because she was crying wasn’t great. Realizing that until she was house-trained I couldn’t walk barefoot in the house for fear of stepping on toys, or (worse) in piss or shit didn’t please me. Having to take her out to pee first thing in a morning in January (or worse, waking up to find she’d already peed in the house…) wasn’t much fun and neither were the arguments María and I had that were caused, in one way or another, by little Peggy.

3 months growth!

But you soon grow accustomed to having a dog around. I talk to her non-stop (who did I talk to before?), I love waking her up in a morning (she’s a lazy teen now!), watching her play with other dogs, and she’s always delighted to see me when I get back from work.

Indeed, as I write this, I haven’t seen Peggy for 3 weeks. She had to go to María’s parents in Galicia so that we could fly over to the UK for my sister’s wedding. By the time you read this, though, Peggy and I will have been reunited I can’t believe how much I’ve missed her and how excited I am to see her again!

Exercise

Now try and find the following in the text. The questions are in the same order as they are in the text.

  1. an adjective that collocates with persuasion.
  2. an adjective that collocates with stranger.
  3. an adverb that collocates with advice.
  4. an adverb that collocates with and emphasizes confusing.
  5. an adjective that collocates with and emphasizes opposite.
  6. an adjective that collocates with evidence.
  7. an adjective that collocates with routine.
  8. an adjective that collocates with solution.
  9. an adjective that collocates with and emphasizes determination.
  10. an adjective that collocates with start.

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