Kids packed off to uni and suddenly the house seems a bit empty. Eerily quiet. And tidy. The initial thrill of the spotless interior gives way to a certain ennui. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little uncomplicated furry creature share that home with you?
Or maybe a few years before this stage you were fed up with the total lack of response you got from your offspring and how even though you had a house full of people no one seemed to notice when you came back from work? Whatever your reasoning, many of us go and keep family member numbers up by getting a dog. And this isn’t just any old dog. This is an empty nester dog.
There are a few tell-tail (sic!) signs you may be the proud owner of an empty nester dog:
You know you have an empty nester dog
..when your dog food budget is roughly the same as the amount you spend on food for yourself. “Vet Canine Gastro Intestinal Therapeutic Diet” for little Fido’s troubled tummy somehow seems money well spent. Why? Two words: poo bags. Just don’t let Edwina know how much that dog food costs, she’s been living off baked beans for two weeks trying to make it to the end of term and may feel a little hard done by.
.. when your partner wants to make the most of the empty nest by going on cheeky weekends away but you worry ‘because Rufus may get bored in kennels’…
…you take pictures like this:
And then a few weeks later like this
… when you successfully train your puppy and are so delighted that a family member responds to training you get another one!
..when you know deep down when your kids at uni say they miss home, it’s Coco, the Springer spaniel that they really miss.
…when you’re actually interacting with your dog while out walking rather than staring intently at your phone, obviously to Millie’s poop deposits on the nearest football pitch.. Only dogwalkers whose sons never played football do this, I have two words for you: slide tackle.
…when after decades of enjoying city or suburban life, you find that your daily walks with Bertie the Labrador open your eyes to nature. Has autumn ever been this lovely before? It probably has, but you were doing the gymnastics run/coaching the football team/getting breakfast ready for 3 kids…
… when you’re done with your brogues obsession and find yourself coveting your friend’s Hunter wellies.
…when you are highly amused by this German street sign:
..when your vet’s phone number is one of the few numbers you know by heart.
…when you follow websites like www.offtheleash.com and can wholly identify with the cartoons!
… when people tell you that the reason your dog is focused entirely on you is because you feed him, you know they’re talking rubbish. And probably have cats. Who definitely only tolerate people’s presence in their home because they feed them.
…when you know you won’t ever be able to watch ‘Marley’ the movie again because of that unthinkable ending.
I grew up with dogs. In fact, I can proudly declare that my parents had dachshunds many many years before they became an obligatory hipster accessory. They were hilarious dogs.
I missed having dogs when my children were small but I was too worried about how much trouble they would be on top of three small children. We then sneaked in a pre-empty nester Labrador a little while before my eldest daughter took her GCSEs, and loved it. We only doubted our choice when we adopted Jimmy’s half-brother Dougie who spent his first year with us demonstrating exactly why he had not found a loving home before we took pity on him. (Let’s just say he got into so much mischief we developed a bit of a reputation with our lovely and endlessly patient vets at Nine Lives veterinary centre.) But those days are long gone and I wouldn’t be without a dog now.
On the other hand we have friends who are glad to be completely freed up and ready to travel without complications, so if that is your aim then a routine-demanding puppy probably isn’t for you. If you need help to decide check here: Am I ready for a dog or a puppy?