The health benefits of dog ownership are well known, companionship being the front runner of a very long and therapeutic list of benefits.
Dogs are fiercely loyal. They offer undiluted affection. They are dependable and consistent. Dogs can be cuddled. They are warm. Unable to use toilets, dogs need to be walked, thereby the human is bound to exercise and reap the associated upsides. Our dog is 7 years old and I calculate that conservatively I have walked 3,640 miles I would not have walked otherwise. This claim cannot be made by any of the Holland children since the walking of the dog is strictly a mum and dad thing.
Oxygen and water might head up the list of essentials for life but love is not far behind. It is important to love something and I describe Tessa as the only member of the Holland household who is loved by everyone all of the time.
As such, she is unassailably the most popular Holland and we all vie for her affection and compete to be her favourite human.
Which happens to be me – which I think is now settled.
Tessa is a beautiful female who thinks I’m bloody wonderful and this makes her unique.
And in return I love her back and which I can prove when recently Nikki and I took her on a dog walk to London’s biggest open space, Richmond Park.
Quickly into the walk we encountered an owner with two Staffordshire Bull Terriers (Staffies) or Pit Bulls in the US. The three dogs sniffed and prodded the way dogs do whilst their owner assured us his dogs were friendly even if the younger one was incredibly strong and exuberant. But quickly the play took a sinister turn with his dog pinning Tessa to the floor and the fierce growls were interspersed by her yelps and cries.
Flat on her back and overwhelmed, the assailing dog with his jaw clamped on to Tessa’s thigh and his owner standing doing nothing and Nikki unable to even look, luckily one brave hero was on-hand.
Without a thought for my own safety, I entered the melee with a breed of dog famed for its ability to clamp its jaw so tight that almost nothing can release it. Apocryphal tales abound about the drastic methods required, variously involving a red-hot poker or the less reliable thumb in to the eye.
Undeterred by this, I clamped my hands around the dog’s jaw and began to prise it open and off my beloved dog. To be fair to the animal, it didn’t seem to object, allowing Tessa to make a beeline for Nikki who was standing at a safe distance and now in tears.
And because the dog didn’t then turn on me, its owner was able to attach a lead and regain control – whereupon we exchanged some differences of opinion. I suggested he should keep his dog on a lead. He countered with it being my dogs’ fault – despite her puncture wounds and forthcoming £200 vet bill.
Not a pleasant man we agreed to differ and we moved off in different directions – both literally and metaphorically. I did question if writing this up is prudent since I don’t really want him to know who I am – but I figure I’m safe because I don’t have him as much of a reader.
Nikki and I were badly shaken and presumably Tess was too – but quickly I began to recover in the knowledge that Tessa knows who saved her and Nikki does too. To have the admiration of the two females in my life, quickly I embraced my new-found hero status.
Nothing I have accomplished on stage or by writing novels or appearing on TV have I ever seen Nikki so impressed with the man she settled for.
“Dom, you were so brave…”
“Oh, it was nothing.” I demurred, but do carry on, if you must.
“I could never have done what you did…”
With each plaudit I felt myself grow a few inches (finally).
“Seriously, what would I have done if you hadn’t been with me”.
A metaphor for our life together, surely.
Although, no thanks from Tessa, not even at the vets as I pay the bill.
Not that I need any her thanks, however. She has been a God-send for the Hollands and has a huge balance in credit.
Plus, I am enjoying my newly boosted self-esteem on account of my supreme valour – further augmented since Nikki is determined to tell everyone she meets about her intrepid husband and including our four boys who now understand that their old man is not just a clown after all. He’s a warrior.
Dogs are good for our health and I can attest to this all day long.
This week I am hoping to recover the data from my dead Mac Book – upon which I can proceed with my many forthcoming publishing projects. To be on the inside track of these important literary landmarks by one of the world’s most deluded writers, be sure to sign up to his newsletter here.