Jilly Cooper says she hasn’t had a holiday in 22 years because she would miss her dog too much. “It’s ridiculous, but I can’t bear to leave Bluebell,” she said, adding that it helps that she lives somewhere lovely. “Gloucestershire is so beautiful in the summer, I don’t want to go away.”
I live in the bucolic surroundings of a big city, soothed by the dulcet natural tones of car horns and sirens, so I quite like going away whenever possible, but having a dog does make it more difficult, for practical as well as sentimental reasons. The main way of dealing with the missing-them part is to take them with you. This is less easy for Cooper, who has a greyhound, too gangly to be truly portable, but manageable for me, with a little whippet, and a fondness for the kind of walking-based breaks beloved of retirees and BBC Four presenters.
Lyra comes on most of these trips. She has a tendency to knock hot drinks over the bedsheets in “dog-friendly” B&Bs who change their policy immediately after we’ve left. She doesn’t like to be alone and prefers human company at all times. She will love you for ever if you give her a chip, and she has a tendency to vomit in the car. She is basically on her own permanent stag do. Holidays are much better with her than without her.
She can’t come on planes – what is this, the US? – so, like Cooper, I miss her terribly when she has to be left behind. But in the two years since I’ve had my dog, I’ve started to think they should be prescribed on the NHS. I’ve barely had a hint of a cold. I’m fitter, healthier and happier. I walk her every day, and every day she makes me laugh, even when she is covered in fox poo and coming in for a hug. Maybe it isn’t quite so easy to book a spontaneous minibreak to Marbella, but you can look at a dog as being a sort of holiday from life, anyway.
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