Birthday with my buddy

What a rollercoaster of a week. It started and ended badly, with a sickly Archie at the beginning and a complaint from a neighbour about doggie behaviour at the end, but the middle contained a lovely parental visit and birthday celebrations. A sh*t sandwich with a yummy filling.

I had just been starting to relax into this dog parenthood lark. It was starting to feel normal to have him in my life; I was no longer thinking and worrying about his every waking moment. Our routines are getting sorted – his dog walker, his puppy school, our weekday walks and breakfasts. So obviously it was at this point that I had to have a horrible 48 hours convinced in my catastrophising that I might lose him. It was awful.

Last Sunday night he suddenly started coughing really bad. He kept me up all night sounding like he was choking, or trying to be sick. I was so worried about what he could have eaten, even though he’s really picky and unlikely to have swallowed something he shouldn’t have. After a traumatic night he ate his breakfast as normal, and zoomed around the park with his usual energy, so reluctantly I left him home and went to work, letting his dog walker know that he had been a bit poorly. Stupidly I had never given her my new Belgian phone number, so didn’t get her message that he’d sounded terrible when she came by and I might want to come home early. Instead I went to work dinner (worried the whole evening about how he would be when I got home). When I finally got back he was his usual happy self, but had a horrible wheeze that sounded like he couldn’t breathe properly. Tuesday it was off to the vet, where he was diagnosed with a mild case of kennel cough that he no doubt picked up from one of his doggy pals (he runs up to every hound he sees in the park and at puppy school). A choking-sounding cough is apparently the classic symptom, and horrible to listen to, but the vet wasn’t at all worried. I was so relieved that it wasn’t serious, and Archie really quite likes going to the vet, so he was quite happy with his outing, and even with his trip to the pharmacy where he queued up with the human patients with his little prescription.

Unfortunately, although he wasn’t very ill he was very contagious so couldn’t go with his pack for his afternoon walks, and I had to cancel a 14-hour trip to London, and leave work early for the rest  week to walk him. I’m not quite sure what my work colleagues thought; I think I sounded like a bit of a mad dog woman, cancelling meetings to take care of my sickly pup. Totally normal for the parent of an ill toddler, but somehow less socially acceptable for the single mum of a poorly pet. Happily my office was very sympathetic, and thank goodness Archie quickly recovered, and is now totally back to normal.

Not sure about taking his medicine, but now fully recovered

I was very happy when his Nana and Granda (aka ‘my parents’) came to visit for the weekend. Archie quickly remembered his Nana from her week of dog sitting in London, but took a little while to stop freaking out about Granda, peeking round the side of the sofa to keep a wary eye on his movements, and keeping us up most of the night (again) barking every time a noise came from their bedroom. My poor little anxious boy also left me a special ‘deposit’ on the living room floor.

By Saturday, though, he’d realised that his Granda was actually a really good playmate and sponsor (persuading me to take Archie out for extra socialisation). It was lovely to have my parents see my new home and neighbourhood, and for my dad to get to know Archie. He definitely left as his biggest fan. Archie came with us on the bus and his first tram ride to Flagey, De Valeras, the Bois and even to the Grand’Place. He still freaks out in such busy areas, but Dad’s right that I need to keep working, gently, on his socialisation. I was so happy to spend a very Belgian birthday drinking beer and eating chips with my very best friend. I can’t wait to take him home at Christmas to meet his cousin Benji and the rest of the family.

Not everyone in our building is such a dog fan. Anyone have any top tips on how to stop a dog barking at noises in the building and outside? Archie’s really not too bad, but he is loud. I’m going to starting leaving a radio on to mask some of the daily background sounds, and close the blinds so he can’t see out, but grateful for any other top tips…



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