This evening after work, I started my 30 minute walk home by criss-crossing the elegant Victorian park outside my office. So far, so ordinary.
But today I did it from behind a curtain of tears. In front of me a guy was walking three adorable dogs and while he entertained the older two with a tennis ball it was the third, a wee Jack Russell puppy, that crept into my heart and curled up there.
Despite her owner's best attempts to engage her in the green bouncy ball, the pup kept scarpering to the other end of the park where two students were kicking around a football. There followed a manic game where she would get in among the students, push their ball with her nose and try to chew it. Thankfully the students were dog lovers, because they good naturedly let the bundle of fluff join in.
It was such a cute sight I wanted to plop the puppy between two slices of bread and eat her up. But what caused big fat salty tears to roll down my face (thank god it was dusk!) was the single minded enthusiasm and sheer joy with which the pup flung herself after the ball, the way she exuded fun and love from every pore.
Some women crave babies but thankfully that's an emotion I've never had to endure. I do, however, have some understanding of what they go through because that's how I feel about having a dog. I cried today because I miss having a dog with every fibre of my being. I didn't realise how deeply, and messily, embedded four legged babies are in my psyche, in who I am.
Yes, I've still got my L-plates on when it comes to being dog-less, but today's teary episode made me realise I can't – and won't - function without a dog in my life. I love my new job, new friends and, of course, being so close to magical European cities, but my need to be a dog mamma, more than anything, will drive me home sooner than I thought.