When I was a kid, we always had dogs as well as cats. Joel and I have never had one together, despite how much I’ve wanted one, because they need more company than we’ve ever been in a position to provide. Even now that life has changed, Ted reigns supreme, so a dog of our own is still a long way off.
One of the dogs my family had, Chloe, was a fat brown miniature dachshund who always slept under the bedcovers at my mother’s feet. My room was next to Mum’s. One of the overheard scenarios repeated ad infinitum was Mum getting into bed at night with John LeCarré or Simenon (or similar) and a hot-water bottle, followed a few minutes later by Chloe scratching at the door. There’d be a kerfuffle of blankets thrown off and the door yanked open, followed by ‘Well, come on, you bloody animal!’, and ‘Oh, get in for god’s sake!’ or ‘Stop fussing, you stupid creature!’ I didn’t pay much attention, I guess. It was as much in my background as a car going past outside.
When Chloe was really quite fat and old, my father was dead and none of us was left at home, Mum sold the house and moved to rural Massachusetts. It was an amazingly difficult thing for her to have done on her own, which I was too young to really understand at the time. I was already in my 20s, in London, and too naïve and self-centred to appreciate the changes she was making in order to take care of herself for her future. Because she loved Chloe (and Muldoon, the only cat left, who was also pretty ancient and mangy by that time), and she couldn’t be sure of two needy old beasts in her new life, she had them put down. My sister Lucy, who died ten years ago tomorrow, never forgave her. I like to think that Lucy, if she had lived longer, if she had outlived Mum, would have been able to understand why that was the kindest thing to do, and the fairest. The past, it lives with you, doesn’t it, niggling away. It would be so easy to sort out if only we were all still here and knew what things would be like if we weren’t.
Anyway, all that was so totally not AT ALL what I set out to waffle on about in this blog! Where did that come from? What I had been thinking about was Chloe’s fat tummy, dragging a little bit on winter walks in Nyack, along the Hudson. She always seemed happy to be out, never troubled by the cold. She was no way a wuss-dog like they are here in Nice. It’s been a little chilly, true, but you’d think it was Siberia the way people dress up their dogs. Jeez, it’s excruciating. I want to kidnap the poor animals and let them run naked, like a dog should.
I’m a bit mortified about taking pictures of people’s dogs in coats, but the sort of people who dress up their dogs love it. I actually couldn’t bring myself to snap the Highland Terrier that was wearing a leather bomber jacket, AND a sweatshirt underneath. Or the French bulldog that was wearing a tulle SKIRT underneath her (I assume it was a her) pink fur coat. Actually some of the tiniest Chihuahuas look as if they could use a coat, they’re so flimsy. But that’s it. All other dogs should rise up en masse and bite their owners to death, and cover the chewed remains with their Burberry dog coats.