As the title of this post suggests, I have never had a pet. That's right - never. Not even a goldfish? No.
At this point people usually look at me with raised eyebrows. Friends and colleagues I have known for years are shocked to learn this about me. Some take an involuntary step back, as though this must mean I am a dangerous sociopath.
Because not having had a pet is a little unusual in today's society, isn't it? And with good reason - even I am aware of how the little furries can make our lives better and more bearable. Having a pet can help tackle loneliness and depression. Then there are the obvious benefits that dog walking has on your cardiac health. Not only that, some pets can even warn owners of cancers and diabetes. They can help children (and grumpy adults) develop empathy. Overall, you could argue pets make you a better human.
But I've never missed not having a pet, if that syntax makes sense. Until, that is, last year - when my boss got a dog. Before Molow I was mostly just terrified of dogs. Nearly two years on I am still terrified yet also fascinated by them. I'm afraid this new-found fascination doesn't extend to all pet-animals. Sorry cat lovers and pigeon fanciers. It's all about the dogs.
Growing up, my parents vetoed pets. Having one was never on the cards. My mother's harrowing childhood pet experience with Bingo the rabbit's demise explained it. Not that I knew this at the time. And not that this pet absence bothered me in any way (terrified, remember?) Plus there's the mess, which I hate. And the general sense of responsibility, which I hate more. So, maybe my parents just didn't trust me with a small, helpless, messy animal. Wise.
But perhaps because I had been told I couldn't, the desire to try out having a pet inevitably popped up at several points in my formative years. There was the year I toyed with the idea of wanting a dog - purely because the local library had a picture book all about how to care for your pet puppy. I must have taken that bloody book out more than twenty times in that year. Then there is my enduring favourite of all the Disney films - 101 Dalmatians. Irresistible. I pictured us all living with a bevy of dogs under our roof. The image didn't quite fit. When my friends got dogs, Trixy and Barney, I became chief tummy stroker after my initial terror eventually wore off (we're talking several years here). All this was nice, but I still didn't want one for myself. Very much like my attitude towards children.
Then came Molow. The hairy, climbing, talking, snogging, ball-stealing bitch of the common, as she is affectionately known in her neighbourhood. Molow who looks like an old man but is really a young woman in disguise. Scruffy and actually mad, she confirms that dogs really do take after their owners, and I can now personally vouch for the benefits of having a pet despite never having one. Molow comes into the office on an almost-daily basis. She is a mind-reader and relaxes the team at times of great stress, lifting the mood in dull meetings with timely grunts and sighs. Alerting us back to the important reality of barking at squirrels and ball-throwing at times when we are at risk of getting caught up in the stress.
Once terrified to leave my desk should she mount me, here I am now bringing in homemade smoked salmon and cream cheese muffins for Molow. Still, our relationship so far is confined to the office and it's little garden. When I build up to taking her for a walk (there's a risk she and I will both be elderly by this point), maybe I will find myself making that next step and actually wanting a Molow of my own? Who knows.
At least then I will finally be able to create an accurate porn star name. Relying on that of your mother's dead rabbit isn't quite right...
That's all, folks