The good man refuge

I’m toying with the idea of adopting an animal. I’ve been looking for a few weeks at animal rescue shelters, and all I want is a masía so I can take in the saddest dog in the world, the twelve-year old abuela Frenchie and the one-eyed cat that survived a fire, and all their mates.

But there are just two things stopping me – commitment and responsibility. Natch. As much as I would love an adorable little face greeting me upon my arrival after work, the cost, the tie and the reduced freedom to nip off for a weekend are all freaking me out. Although I have had a dog in the past, it was many moons ago and he lived with my ex-husband in Wales while I was studying in and ripping up London, so it hardly counts. Actually it doesn’t count at all, because add to that that we had a garden and a beach down the road, and it renders the whole ‘I used to have a dog’ thing completely irrelevant. Taking him for a walk consisted of letting him off the leash and watching him run.

It is true that my life here has calmed down considerably over the last two years or so, so there would be no ‘not going home at all for two days after a night out because things got a little crazy and then you met someone hot’, but it still scares the bejeezus out of me that a tiny half hour later than regular feeding time would kill my charge and I’d never be able to live with myself. I did have sole custody of a goldfish once, in Liverpool, that I rescued from a travelling fair. Pale and small and weak, Formby (named after the town I found him in), grew into a spoilt, feisty fish with his own castle. You may scoff – but he had real personality and survived for five whole years. No mean feat for a goldfish (or me keeping something other than myself alive). He swam into his castle to die which is where I found him only after thinking to myself two days later, ‘I haven’t seen Formby for two days’. Considering the tank was less than half a metre long, this was a bit lax on my part and I convinced myself I’d neglected him to death. I cried for days. And there in lies another problem. I’m not very good at goodbyes. Everything dies, so we can love something all their lives and at the end of it, they go to the big animal shelter in the sky. How do you cope with that?

Some people have said to me I should ‘get back in the dating game’, or ‘what you need is a man’. I thought that was supposed to be the other way around. No partner, get cat. And they’ve said it as if it’s as simple as adopting a four-legged friend. If it were, I would have been scrolling through portrait pictures of candidates at the good-men refuge, looking forlornly out of bars towards the sun, running excitedly towards volunteers with balls in their mouths, curled up in their fluffy beds, or peeking curiously over the top of a basket. Reading their sad profiles of how they were abandoned, lived in an industrial park and survived a fall from a balcony, gaining a severe limp in the process. I could go to a decent-chap shelter where they would excitedly run to the pen doors vying for my attention, trying to impress. And the one who wrapped himself around my legs and looked up at me with adoring eyes might have a chance at coming home with me. But unless they had a face as adorable as Domi in the photo above, I considerably doubt any would make my heart melt quite as much.

But of course it’s not that simple to find a partner (especially if you’re currently on the dating wagon), or indeed the courage to take care of something else. So for now, I think I’ll just continue to scroll and concentrate on trying to overcome my fears of commitment in the hope that at some time in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to share my time and energy with something other than myself. At this stage though, it might just have to be another fish.

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