Each of my dogs has changed my life. It started with Noel, years ago. Left to die in the snow, with her belly split open, close to starvation. I got a phone call, drove to find her thinking what to do with her. I had just started my professional life and I was going to be rich. What I was, however, was unhappy. I had to travel to France and Belgium at least once a week, I worked all the time, I couldn’t sleep or eat. I didn’t have friends, my boyfriends lasted a week.I was surrounded by people who talked about their second homes in Switzerland and fleets of cars. I remember thinking: ‘what the hell will I do with the second home in Switzerland? And I can’t drive more than one car!’ I didn’t like myself then, I didn’t like anyone else-but I loved dogs. Always have. And when I wrapped the lifeless black body in my jumper, I knew she’d stay with me. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a plan. For the first – and only – time in my life I didn’t care.
Noel, my Christmas Eve’s gift from heaven, survived. I left my well-paid job. I was terrified. But I liked my small flat and my old car, I liked my friends, who were just ordinary, happy students. I loved Noel. And gradually I put on some weight, my hair grew back, I slept most nights, I started teaching and learnt how to breathe again.
My sister, relieved, told me she had begged my dad not to take me with him. I don’t believe in life after death, but my first abused dog was a remedy for my death drive, for my grief and my desperate attempt to prove I can manage without my dad, without anyone, even if it kills me. Especially if it kills me.
(My dad died in an accident, we had always been very close).
I still have the fear of loving anyone-because they might die and leave me. But we can’t survive without love.
Each of my dogs has changed my life. Now, it’s the era of Brian and I’m changing my life again.