There’s something about a milestone birthday, particularly as you get older. Those significant numbers ending with a zero seem to instil a sense of excitement or, in some cases, dread. Some see it as a legitimate excuse for a party or the chance to book a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Others prefer to hide from the realisation that they’ve clocked up another decade and will never again be considered ‘young’.
Personally, I’ve embraced each and every milestone from 18 to 50. Rather than deny the inevitable ageing process, I’ve seen it as an opportunity to reconsider my aspirations and set new goals. Being born on Christmas Day, I suppose it’s the same as making New Year’s resolutions, making a list each December of things I want to do.
One thing I did not expect to do in my fifties was become a mother. Okay, so I didn’t actually give birth but I’m still exhausted from being at the beck and call of my little bundle of joy 24/7. Before you jump to conclusions, I should just clarify that my sweet baby boy is a Dachshund puppy.
After losing our family Jack Russell, Ozzie, in June last year, I immediately set about finding another dog. Life was just not the same without a four-legged friend and I missed the daily routine (and exercise) that comes with owning a dog. Little did I know how difficult my search would be. The whole world, it seemed, wanted a puppy during lockdown.
As the demand for pups soared, so too did the price. The cost of certain breeds more than doubled and the so-called puppy farms took advantage of the situation by exploiting those searching for their new best friend. Fortunately, I was able to find a reputable breeder and collected my eight-week-old puppy, Maverick, back in September.
Then the fun started! Although, as a family, we have always had dogs, I had never been fully responsible for the rearing of a puppy. But how hard could it be? As I cradled my new baby in my arms and looked into his adorable brown eyes, I couldn’t have been happier. Fast-forward six months and my life is no longer my own!
I can’t remember the last time I had a full night of unbroken sleep. My hands and feet are scarred with bite marks. I’ve lost count of the number of flip-flops and slippers destroyed by needle-like teeth. The rug in my lounge is frayed at each corner, the floor is littered with toys and my windows are covered with the tell-tale smear of a wet nose. Not forgetting the number of puddles (and other deposits) I have to clean up from the kitchen floor.
Yes, it’s certainly been a challenge. Never more so than at 3am when I drag myself out of bed in response to his incessant cries. Ignoring him is not an option, as any other Dachshund owner will tell you. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy to bits, but I’m way too old for sleepless nights. And what did I expect when I called him Maverick?
I reassure myself with the fact that he won’t be a puppy forever. He’s already losing his milk teeth – five down, twenty-three to go – and will surely soon tire of chewing and biting everything in sight (myself included). His constant need for attention will also wane and his ability to control his bladder will, I hope, improve.
Quite what age he will be when he eventually reaches this stage is unknown. Dachshunds are, among other things, unique. They’re also stubborn. Which means he will sleep through the night when he’s good and ready and not a moment before. I suspect there is a long way to go before his puppy days are truly behind him. Perhaps his significant first birthday will bring aspirations of his own. Maybe he’ll make his own resolution to let his parents sleep, undisturbed, for eight hours.
In the meantime, I focus my tired eyes on the list I composed on my last milestone birthday. ‘Fifty things to do in my fifties’ makes interesting reading. Some things, I’m happy to say, have already been ticked off (a trip to Rio, a book published). Others (visit Cape Town) remain frustratingly elusive and are not likely to happen anytime soon. In fact, my new parenting responsibilities have put paid to more than one thing on my wish list.
That said, Maverick is a welcome addition to our family, regardless of my trivial complaints. I love nothing more than walking along the beach with my new little friend, his cute face and tiny legs attracting attention from all directions. Like most youngsters, his personality is beginning to shine through. He’s loving, funny, faithful and very, very cheeky. In short, he’s maverick. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.< Back