A Girl’s Best Friend

I believe I am producing a little too much serotonin.

Which is a bugger.

It’s a neurotransmitter: a postman, in effect. It takes messages to the brain from that seat of the emotions, the stomach and gut.  When the going gets tough, stress irritates, and the body sends that little postman into overdrive. He  sends the blood vessels loopy: they constrict, they dilate, they’re all over the shop.They throw out a thing called Substance P.  The nervous system swells. Literally: and a migraine is born.

At this point it usually begins to feel as if a steampunk Jules Verne boring machine is making its way through my skull.

What one needs at a time like this – and I should know – is something which can produce Substance Pee.

Preferably with four legs.

And lots of wiry hair.

I woke to day two of my resident migraine. These unwelcome visitors usually last three days, during which I am rude and miserable, cannot look at screens, insist on looking at screens, and moan incessantly.

As I peered over the edge of the bed, a large moustache appeared to be adorning it.

It belonged to the dog. He is outrageously blessed in the moustache department. He had divined that I was awake. He doesn’t understand about serotonin; he wanted some food. It had been eight long hours since he stole that sausage from the kitchen, and his stomach had long since dispatched it to the warehouse for jettisoning, if you get my drift.

And that’s another thing, intimated the dog: I could do with a potter in the garden. A constitutional: you know the sort of thing.

The moustache left its station and a polite doggie cough could be heard somewhere at the bottom of the bed.

As usual, the morning took wings and flew shortly after the dog gained access to the garden. We all showered, my daughter Maddie left with Phil at seven, my son Felix was breakfasted by 7:45 when my sister’s contingent arrived, and all was a blur of hide and seek and hot chocolate and securing fairy cakes so the dog could not get them, until I deposited everyone at the playground. Everyone except four-year old Al.

Al did not feel like walking a dog today.

“Just a short walk, Al: enough for Macaulay to stretch his legs.”

Al cried. Big, Oscar-winning tears. Merciless Auntie Kate swung him from the car, the tears evaorated and we engaged in a conversation about why Macaulay waters so many places so copiously.

‘He’s sort of signing his name, Al.” The dog provided exhibit A as an illustration. And exhibit B. And exhibit C. How could a small dog have that much inside him? He was working his way through the alphabet.

He was pleased, though. He never seems to let the short walks bother him. He’s not so much ‘seize the day’ as ‘seize the minute’. Every instant in the open air is relished for itself, without thought for the future.

My head hammered, but there was something about that blithe little spirit pottering through the woods, moustache to ground. It calmed me.

The day wore on. Shopping with my mother in law, clear worst of gunk from house before Al arrived, collect Al from nursery, give Al dinner, despatch Al to my sister.

I fell onto the bed. Lying down is not nice when one has a migraine, but sometimes standing up is not an option. A large moustache stationed itself  back on the duvet: solidarity, it seemed to say. This moustache will last a lot longer than that headache.

The dog had not had a bound today. He must stretch his muscles at full pelt each day, or he goes a little odd. After 20 minutes I obliged the polite moustache. I got up, hitched Macaulay to a lead, and we headed into the forest.

Joy is infectious. Perhaps that is why a dog is a girl’s best friend. Because even when I felt as if a blacksmith was using my head as an anvil, watching the jaunty, preppy little soul navigate his happy habitat did something for me. I may even have smiled.

Collection from school later, I found myself contemplating the kitchen floor in something like despair. It should be washed, but I could only stare at it.

And then I heard the clatter of claws tapping on the floor, and in he came, a benign little shark cruising for scraps, weaving in and out of the table legs, doing what Macaulay does best: coexisting.

He is like a salve to the spirit, this little biohazard. A reminder that all is well, even when it may seem daunting. He is all things to all men, and woman, and boys, and girls.

A terrier really is a girl’s best friend.

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54 thoughts on “A Girl’s Best Friend

  1. It’s the boundless enthusiasim for the moment that brings the smiles:) I have to confess i am a cat person and know the comfort of that warm bundle at the small of the back when life is pressing down – all is well- we have had terriers though – my first was a Manchester and our last a long legged Jack Russell – they bounce through life!

  2. Dang those merciless migraines. So sorry you have them, Kate. I don’t know how you manage all you did while it was raging. But I’m so glad you have your friend. A ball of wiry haired joy!

  3. So sorry that you are having a migraine, Kate. Buggers is right. Joy is infectious, indeed, and even though you were in misery (I know how it feels), you hitched up Macaulay and made me smile. Be better. Good wishes come your way.

  4. Macaulay – what a character – I have just spent several minutes watching through the photos, each one making me chuckle. It is the combinations, the moustache, the eyebrows, the tongue, his gait, he even has expressive ears. You should write a book about a Dog called Macaulay.
    Your description of migraines sound awful – one of my daughter-in-laws suffers from them, now I shall know how it is for her. She is the same kind of person as you, full of energy and perhaps doing far too much! All of those people in your house, it is like the foyer to Kings Cross Station each day.

    1. It is truly wonderful having the living embodiment of those photographs living alongside us, Rosemary. Think: those ears, on tap 🙂 All my best to your daughter in law. I have special serotonin inhibitor tablets which prevent most of my migraines – they are an incredible blessing. Sometimes, though, there is just to much of the stuff sloshing around, and the postman wins.

      Yup: we call our house Clapham Junction. Manymanymany comings and goings….

    1. It’s like having a little hairy counsellor in your own front room, Sarah 🙂 I highly recommend it, though there are some olfactory drawbacks you may wish to research before taking the plunge! Thanks for leaving that lovely comment….all the best as you make your decision..

      1. Just to add the anecdote that lead to this:

        A Warwick Uni open day one of the tutors gave a presentation then another tutor gave a presentation and afterwards I told Techie I could hardly bear to watch the screen during the first presentation as the edges were dancing like the edges of a migraine aura. Techie hadn’t seen this at all, though he too is a migrainous chap, but said it was probably due to a sensitivity to the frequency being used.

  5. Happy to read this morning that your migraine has departed.

    I thoroughly enjoy every post that includes some of Macaulay’s antics and poses. He seems a genuinely irrepressible spirit. Given opportunity, I think he would behave similarly to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puPQChRNlgo

    Have a great day (or what’s left of it — I truly struggle with the time differential, since my day is young yet!) 😉

  6. He is a sweetheart… There was a time when I suffered from migraines {shudders}, but it’s been years now – I hope you too come to the end of them, soon.

  7. I shed a little tear here – for a most splendid pooch, a loving spirit and a finely crafted piece of prose that I have read in a long time! For you, a gentle hug and a quiet word of encouragement as you battle the ugliness – take best care xx

  8. I’m very sorry for the migraines, and I don’t know how you manage to do all you do with a three-day headache of this magnitude. I chuckle, though, at all the independent spirit in one family–and Big Al and Macaulay are certainly leading their own parades! Your neurological description of stress is really strong. Our poor bodies and minds…think what we do to them with our thoughts, worries, cares and responsibilities. I hope this week has some very light tones to balance the concerns, Kate. Debra

    1. Alas, Debra, I have a two day teaching session in a bid to secure another job, which makes a five-day teaching week. However the following week will be holidays, and a little kinder I think. Part of me has been reviewing this life, which causes such stress: I’d like to change it, but don’t quite know how yet.

      1. I think you are probably in the busiest season of your life. Just the nature of parenting children the age of Felix and Maddie is stressful–joyful, of course, but stressful–because you see the importance of giving them your best attention. I tell my daughter all the time that there is a definite reason God gives us our children when we’re young. Without a doubt I couldn’t do it any more. You are definitely a woman who lives life “consciously” and with intention, so I know you must always review and evaluate how you could lessen the stress, so maybe during your holiday you can find just a few things to change and lighten the load. It’s so funny because when I read your posts there is a part of me that would really like to “go back” and enjoy family life in the way you describe, but then I have a little reality check and realize it really wouldn’t be possible to keep that level of energy going across the decades! Bless you this week with your extra duties!

  9. I hope your migraine is better now. I’ve never had a migraine, nor ever even been in the same room as someone with a migraine, so I can’t even imagine.

    I agree that dogs are great for keeping the floor clean. Recently I decided to lock our dog outside because he was bringing in too much dirt, and molting to boot, but when I realised how dirty the kitchen floor was getting without his dexterous and enthusiastic tongue mopping, I reneged. He’s back inside now.

  10. Migraines are awful . . . standing up . . . sitting down . . . or lying prone. Hope yours has fled the scene by now, Kate.

    Glad that Macauley lightened the oppressive burden a bit.

  11. Sorry. Don’t know how I got out of sorts with this one. And, I cannot blame a migraine. I am sorry you deal with the same beast. They always hit at the worst times, don’t they? And, every time, I tell myself I can really handle it. It won’t be so bad. And, then I’m on my back in a dark room with ice packs on my head, crying.

    I hope you are all better today.

  12. Love that Mac of yours; dislike button for the migraines! Dogs are funny beasts; and I agree that no matter our weather, their spirit can fashion a rainbow in a lightening storm ~

  13. That undying love they show for us, even when we just want to curl up and die in bed, it’s enough to drag me out for a walk. His moustache is very impressive 🙂

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