Twenty years ago today, I made some vows, signed some paperwork and became married to Natalie, my amazing wife. Scientist, sailor, partner, puppy parent and partner-in-crime extraordinaire. And an all round very nice person, to boot.
Obviously it’s a pity I only realised we’d reached this momentous milestone when I found the card she’d left for me before she headed off for work this morning.
And it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to find a photo of her that doesn’t have one or both of the dogs in centre frame.
But if marriages are a work in progress, at least I have plenty to keep me occupied for the next 20 years.
Here’s to the journey… with the best travelling companion I could ever hope to have.
I read an article a while back in which the author described how she’d explained the UK’s ‘999’ emergency phone number to someone she was interviewing in (if I remember correctly) central Africa. The interviewee couldn’t believe that we have a number we can call and help gets dispatched to us, for free, straight away. It’s something we take for granted. But I think it’s time we gave a little back. Continue reading
At this time of year, when the days are short and the weather is almost uniformly grey, like many people I can succumb all too easily to a touch of the black dog. Not full-on depression, because I’ve been there and I know what that’s like. More a slight listlessness. A difficulty in finding my usual motivation. A certain lack of, for want of a better word, va-va-voom. Continue reading
There’s a saying among dog trainers and handlers: Everything travels down the lead. Because working with a dog is about much more than the commands that we give them. It’s about the way in which we give them. About our tone of voice. Our body language. Even the mood we’re in. To work effectively with a dog, we need to be in the right frame of mind. And we need to put everything else aside. Continue reading
Whenever Natalie reads something in a magazine that she thinks I’ll find interesting, she leaves it out somewhere obvious for me to find. And so I stumbled this morning upon a review in the Guardian of Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund’s book ‘Why mortality makes us free‘. It’s “a sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics”, apparently (the book, not the review), which argues that it is not believing in the glorious afterlife promised by many religions that makes our lives on Earth so full of meaning. To be honest, though, this benefit of what Hagglund calls “secular faith” is far from news to me. Or to my fellow humanists around the world. Continue reading
While we had Molly out with us for Ozzy’s training yesterday, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. After we’d finished Ozzy’s searches, Ozzy and I wandered off to hide in a pre-agreed area and Natalie unleashed Molly to come and look for us. Would she find us? Would she find us before it got dark? Would an untrained but energetic and highly enthusiastic Labrador be able to do what Ozzy (with all of her three months of training so far) does seemingly without a second thought? Or would it all go terribly wrong? Continue reading
It was a lovely sunny day today, and I’d managed to get my various chores done by lunchtime, which left time for a nice lunch and a trip to nearby Leigh Woods for some search dog training with Ozzy. It was the first sunny weekend day for some time, though, so we were far from the only people who had chosen this particular destination. Which made for some odd looks as Ozzy and I charged through the undergrowth. Continue reading
As far as Labradors go, Ozzy can be a bit of a snuggler. All the more so after a busy day of training, running around and generally being a bit of a puppy. And especially as the days – and evenings – get that little bit nippier and the nights draw in. But thanks to Natalie and her crochet talents, we have the answer. And so I’m proud to present… Continue reading
As Ozzy gets older, I’m increasing gradually the distance that she comes running with me. She’s just gone eighteen months now, and we’ve worked our way up slowly to a little over three miles. Well, I run just over three miles, but she races around so much she probably runs about eight. But that’s not the problem. The problem is something a bit less Strava-friendly. The problem, as per usual at this time of year, is mud. Continue reading
It was pouring with rain on Saturday afternoon. Natalie had some work she needed to do. And I didn’t much feel like doing anything except hang out with the dogs. So I propped myself up on the bed, a Labrador lying along each leg, laptop balanced on my knees, and watched a movie I’d downloaded a few days ago. It’s called ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’. And it’s incredible. In fact, it’s probably changed my life. Continue reading