1. Walks

I knew we’d have to go on walks and we were looking forward to the excuse to exercise and explore. I didn’t realise how much we’d need to walk to tire her out in the first few weeks (we were constantly exhausted!) but now it’s settled down, I didn’t expect quite how much I’d enjoy the strolls. Sure, the on-lead first thing in the morning pee-and-poo walk around the block is a bit of a chore comparatively but park/woodland walks are a lot of fun – watching her cheese it about at full speed while we dawdle along behind. We’re very lucky to have such interesting walks at the foot of our garden and around both Leeds & Bradford in general – very green cities. In a chicken/egg situation, it’s also perfect timing that Lily has entered our lives just when I’m getting more interested in wild food/wild plants in general. We’re also going for more walks with friends – not just other doggied-up friends – loving the excuse to go for a stroll in the sunshine rather than just seeing those friends at the pub or whatever.

2. Dog walking small talking

And it’s not just people we already know: if you want to get to know people in your local community, get a dog – it makes things so much easier. To be fair, this was a already pretty friendly neighbourhood but it seems to ramp up a lot when we’re out with Lily. Lots of doggie-related small talk but it’s a start.

3. Restrictions

I had not anticipated quite how tying a dog would be compared to cats. The cats are tying in some ways – they wouldn’t want to go into a cattery so we’ve not been able to go on long (read: more than a week) holidays due to a combination of missing them and not wanting to abuse the generosity of our friends doing the feeding. But the dog, at the moment – we can’t even leave her for an hour on her own. We’ll build it up but she’s effectively been abandoned twice within a couple of months (firstly by the person who loved her for over 8 years, secondly by that person’s daughter) so she’s understandably somewhat anxious. Since we work from home, we don’t need to leave her alone that much but sometimes it’s desirable – we’ve got a great and very willing babysitter in Katherine but still, it’s quite tying. On the plus side though, most of our holidays in recent years have been to a quiet cottage by the coast somewhere in the UK so she’ll be able to come with us then.

4. Poo

When we were talking to rescue people about getting a dog, we’d often joke that we have no fear when it comes to poo but it turns out, we genuinely have no fear of poo. John’s dad watched me with pick some up with a baggie the other day and said he couldn’t do it, he’d need a little shovel. But a decade of cleaning out litter trays & accidental cat poos on carpet, then four months of Sili with stomach cancer last year – we’re not going to be licking our fingers after doing it but … no fear.

5. How noisy dogs are

I’ve lived with cats my whole life and know that their vocabulary extends far beyond “meow” – and there are hundreds of different meows anyway. I know the sound of a cat washing, a cat giving its claws a good clean, a cat scratching its ear with its back leg and hitting the window at the same time. I didn’t think a dog would be silent aside from the occasional woof or pine/whine but Lily grunts, she snorts, she snores, she sighs, she farts (that’s both an assault on the audio and olfactory senses), she thunders around the house, and she licks her bum & bits so loudly that it’s worrying (George identified the worrying aspect the other day: it sounds too wet, like she’s doing something very moist on the carpet. Never a good sound). None of these sounds are a problem and some of them (the grunting in particular) are hilarious — I just wasn’t expecting them.

6. How much stuff I know about cats that I don’t realise I know

That stuff about cat noises isn’t half of it, not an eighth of it, possibly a 20th of it. I’ve lived with cats my whole life and have been the primary caregiver to the Peach pride for over a decade, so I know all about cat food, cat litter, cat treats, cat toys, cat facial expressions, cat stares, cat actions, cat needs, cat routines… I am at one with the cats. But it’s all so internalised that I didn’t realise how much I knew about them until I started living with a new species which needs different food, treats & toys, has a different routine and facial expressions etc. There has been, and still is, a lot to learn.

7. It’s frustrating my camera is broken

And I have to rely on my crappy camera phone. She’s too cute for just two megapixels! ;)