About eleven months ago, I told Benedict Ambrose we were getting a dog. It was a non-negotiable. However, we still don't have a dog, and I realise that it was actually a negotiable after all. Or, rather, a nice idea.
The other non-negotiable, back in March, was that I had to find some sort of activity to deal with the stress of reading and writing bad news for eight hours a day. Eventually I got a membership to a fitness club--quite a nice one--and that helped really a lot. But while making dog-getting plans, I knew that in order to spend active time with the dog, I would have to give up the daily bus-ride to the club.
The problem is, I like people better than dogs. And I don't go to the fitness club to lose weight--losing weight is why I am on this punitive low-grain diet--but to relax. And seeing the lovely receptionist and instructors helps me relax. I like being out of the house, and closer to the city centre, and among ordinary Edinburghers of various origins who are dedicated to exercise.
I also like languages. And if you're over eleven, learning languages takes a lot of time. It takes endless practise so that you don't forget stuff. It's hard work--although it's fun hard work. (It was also fun eavesdropping on two different Polish conversations on the bus home from the gym this morning.)
Benedict Ambrose sometimes feels neglected because of my desire to study foreign languages. So imagine a dog.
Then there's travel. We don't actually travel as much as we would like--I work for a North American organisation, so I don't have the European or British amount of holiday time--but we do go to Poland once a year, and to Italy when we can, and I go to the AGM in the USA every summer and then home to Canada every winter. Occasionally we spend a weekend in the countryside with friends. Oh, and I travel out there to homeschool.
So again, this is not a dog-friendly lifestyle. And, again, I like people better than dogs. My favourite thing of favourite things is sitting around a table with friends or family, chatting and eating. The more I get to do this, the happier I am. If this is in Kraków, Toronto, or Rome, so much the better. Dogs do not facilitate this.
The fact is, a dog is not a good substitute for family and friends back home, which is who I really miss. Friendly, caring women, like fitness instructors, are closer to the mark. And thus my dog plan goes the way of my chicken plan, and my British friends are going to think I never, ever stick to my plans. However, to my credit I'm still studying Polish.