After mourning her dear departed dog, Sarah-Kate Lynch makes a ruff decision

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1 January 1970

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There’s no replacing a dear departed dog, but Sarah-Kate is finally ready to let a new hound into the heart.

The Ginger complains that I could be the last person on earth and I’d still find the other last person on the earth to yak to.

But the little mini-connections you make with random humans along the way can often be what makes your day – and what makes lockdowns particularly tiresome!

One of my most random connections happened about 12 years ago when we were on the Gold Coast in Australia, where the Ginger was working on a film. I was taking our then-young dog Ted to the beach (I heart Gold Coast beaches) when we bumped into a man who looked a bit like Santa, and his dog who looked like a puppy but was in fact 14 years old.

We got into a conversation about dogs and, as ours were at different ends of the spectrum, Santa recounted that he’d loved his last dog so much he waited a long time to get the replacement – but that had been a mistake.

“You should always replace your favourite thing straight away,” he told me. “Whether it’s a dog or a fry pan.” Then off he trotted and I never saw him again.

But when Ted went heavenward at the end of 2018, I was too busy crying to replace him. I know grief is the price you pay for love, but that doesn’t make it easier. I thought my heart would break. I was sad and lonely and, worse, I felt silly for being sad and lonely because I’m a grown-up and he was a dog. But I thought Santa was wrong. I couldn’t replace Ted at all, let alone right away.

I was sad and lonely and, worse, I felt silly for being sad and lonely because I’m a grown-up and he was a dog.

Then I babysat Woman editor Sido’s labradoodle puppy. Overnight, the melancholy I felt at having lost something so important was replaced by the joy of what a four-legged friend can add to a person’s life. It’s totally a glass half empty/full thing.

I had not realised in the time since Ted departed how quiet everything had become in my day-to-day life – the tip-tap of keyboard keys being possibly the least interesting sound a person can hear for hours in a row. But with Tui in the house, I had someone to talk to. It was as though an empty space to which I’d been deeply attached suddenly got filled up and changed shape and the place came alive again.

Cut to a year or so later. Now, at my feet, lies Jimmy, 11 weeks old, a golden labradoodle who’s only been with me for three weeks, but I already can’t imagine life without him.

He’s already toilet trained (within reason), sleeps all night (now), rarely barks (a yip or two here and there, maybe), has yet to chew my favourite pair of shoes (but I know he will) and has altogether improved my life 100%.

He’s a good listener, particularly when sleeping, doesn’t mind the vet or people coming to the door or thunder and, apart from not really loving the car very much, is proving to be the perfect companion.

It’s hard not to sound like a convert to a strange canine cult – but then maybe strange canine cults aren’t so bad. Puppies are funny! They bump into things and fall over and waddle and flop and if I am literally one minute late feeding him, Jimmy hurls himself at his giant bag of dog food in a tiny little rage. I mean, what’s not to love?

Should I have got him two and a half years ago? I don’t think so. The timing seems just right now. On the other hand, my favourite fry pan has just about had it and I’ll be replacing that in the blink of an eye – so thanks for that, Santa.

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