Opinion

Sam Delaney: 'We always wanted a puppy... now it's chaos'

After Sam Delaney's cat died, the family got a kitten, but then decided they wanted a puppy too. Mayhem has ensued

Cookie the dog

Cookie has turned the Delaney household upside down

There’s a brilliant Netflix show about a specialist Israeli intelligence unit, called Fauda. I looked up what Fauda meant in Israeli and it translates, brilliantly, as ‘chaos’. In the show, whenever a mission is compromised or one of the spies finds themselves in a gunfight, they shout “Fauda! Fauda!” into their walkie-talkies to alert their colleagues. 

My wife and I got so invested in the show that we started messaging the word ‘fauda’ to each other whenever small domestic problems arose. Run out of milk? ‘Fauda!’ One of the kids is sick and wants a day off school? ‘Fauda!’ Ha ha. Aren’t we amusing? Well, nobody is laughing in my house any more. Because these days we are living in a completely un-ironic state of genuine domestic chaos. Yes, friends, we accidentally bought a puppy. ‘FAUDA!’ We had always wanted a dog. But we had a neurotic cat who wouldn’t have liked it. When the cat died we got a kitten to help soothe the pain. We should have left it at the kitten. But we got cocky and we decided we needed a puppy too.  

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On December 27, me, my wife and our two kids hit the road from London to a breeder’s farm in Norfolk where I handed over the price of a half-decent second-hand hatchback in return for a three-month-old cockapoo puppy which we named Cookie. She was beautiful and cuddly but we couldn’t help but notice in the car journey home that she stunk. Was it naive of us to imagine that our dog would be a special dog that smelt of peaches or lavender? Yes it was. And our naivety didn’t end there. 

the puppy with Bobby the kitten
Cookie with Bobby the kitten

The thing about having a puppy is that you are constantly thinking about another creature’s bowel movements. Honestly, my days used to be quite relaxed and pleasant. A little gym session in the morning, a bit of writing in the afternoon, knock up a bowl of pasta for dinner, then watch the box until bedtime. Lovely.

Now my schedule is entirely built around when Cookie might next need the toilet. I take her out in the garden at nighttime and implore her to do her business. She sniffs about and starts to play. I don’t want her to play. It is cold and dark and I want her to just get it over with. Sometimes I use the torch on my phone to check what she is up to. Shining a light at a dog’s bumhole at one in the morning is a sobering experience, I can tell you.

Of course, she is also destroying things. And she fights with the cat non-stop. The house is in a state of utter mayhem. I try to get her to sit peacefully with me in my office while I work. I have to try and generate some earnings in between all the faeces management. But she whines and scratches at the office door.

Why did we do this? I host a mental health podcast called The Reset. I always ask my guests for the little things that keep them sane. The positive reviews of canine husbandry were so overwhelmingly positive that I just had to try it. I had a dog when I was a kid that I really loved. But that was the ’80s when you didn’t have to walk them that much and, when you did, no-one expected you to pick up their crap in little bags. I envisaged my dog-owning life to be one of meditative walks in the park or life-affirming cuddles by the fire. But I just feel overwhelmed and exhausted. 

I don’t regret the decision, mind you. I know I sound like I do, but I really don’t. Cookie is adorable. There is a real sense of love between all of us. I have faith that the teething problems will eventually smooth themselves out. She will grow and mature and learn that iPhone cables are not food. 

This experience has been another reminder that real life is more complex and challenging than the two-dimensional versions we are presented with on social media. I have posted a few pictures of Cookie the puppy looking gorgeous and docile on Instagram. I got a ton of likes. But if I want to be of service to other prospective dog owners, I should probably post a few more of her shitting on the rug. 

Read more from Sam Delaney here. Follow him on Twitter here.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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