By: 25 May 2017
Something to chew on

Patrick Walker finds puppy love and a turtle on a fence post

I am looking at the legs of a kitchen chair. Three have an elegant curve and a gently tapered square foot, but the fourth resembles an unevenly stuffed chipolata sausage with a very narrow end. I am wondering whether it will take my weight, and whether perhaps I have sanded too much off it.

The alternative is plain to see on the other five chairs, each of which has one or more legs savaged by needle-sharp puppy teeth, reduced to perhaps a third of its original diameter. She is adorable but has clearly concluded that the main constituent of the furniture polish is marrow fat jelly. And if that is main course, desert is that glue helpfully left for hungry dogs in a tasty layer beneath the veneer of the kitchen units.

In a classic example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, I have now constructed a pen in the garden into which Eve walks happily in expectation of a biscuit and then stares at me forlornly through the bars when the gate is shut on her shining black nose. The message in her eyes is clear.

One: “this is totally unnecessary, I won’t chew anything in the kitchen ever again (at least I won’t provided everything soft or wooden is out of reach and I have a large bone to keep me occupied)”. Two: “you don’t love me anymore”. And three: “I can’t decide whether, when I get my teeth into your fancy mobile phone, I am going to eat it micro chip by chip, or phone the RSPCA.”

But as I start sanding the next chair I am smiling. Not only is the sun shining but the joy the dog brings far outweighs all the inconvenience. If you are into dogs you will get this, but it is not an easy sell to a non-believer – dirty paws, fine sprays of muddy water across every surface, questionable breath and a propensity to pass wind like a rugby team after a midnight curry binge.

All of this reminds me that our loves and affections are rarely that logical, but nor do they need to be. And to quote Charlotte Brontë (in a hopeless attempt to suggest I have any literary understanding) “Better to be without logic than without feeling”.

Hopefully most of us get through life with a blend of both, and maybe without enough of either. In truth, while for years I thought that with age would come independence and self-sufficiency, I have never been more aware of the importance of the support of close friends and loved ones. Without their logic and emotions I would have missed out on so much and with them I feel I can conquer… mountains.

Well, perhaps not real mountains, but at least get my kitchen joinery work completed without losing my smile. It is spring, the bluebells are out and I have the privilege of a rewarding job, but without others I would be nowhere.

As a Nashville star remarked on the radio last week when asked how he had achieved success: “When you see a turtle on a fence post, you know somebody put it there!”

Patrick Walker is an independent mediator: