Kate Smithers is a PhD researcher in the School of Education, and Vice-President of NUPSA.
When I saw the newsletter theme – love – I instantly knew what my article would have to be about. I’m sorry to say that, no, my first thought was not to write about my husband (sorry Joe!), but about my dog, Nutmeg.
For those of you who don’t know Nutmeg, she is as unique as her name. She is a Boxer with springs for legs, who can see over our 6-foot fence whenever she jumps. She will be five in October and she has eyes that feel like they stare into your soul. To be honest, my husband and I didn’t quite know what we were getting into when we brought Nutmeg home (despite owning a Boxer before).
When Nutmeg was a puppy, we took her to Puppy Pre-School. For those who may not have this in their home country, or have never heard of it before, it is a dog socialisation class. You teach your dog to sit, stay, lay down and some other handy training tools. It is designed to allow puppies to meet other dogs in a friendly, easy-going environment.
Nutmeg, however, did not like Puppy Pre-School. In fact, she was so anxious about the whole experience that she barked constantly at all the other puppies. After the second week, and many headaches later, she was made to attend Puppy Pre-School in a room alone. Since then, Nutmeg has struggled to make any other furry friends. What she lacks in dog social skills, though, she makes up for in becoming friends with every human she meets. She manages to steal the heart of every person who visits our house.
Nutmeg has the biggest heart and loves her family more than anything in this world. When I work from home, she happily sleeps next to me or provides a quick cuddle during the times I take a break. My journey through my PhD has not been smooth, and I have had multiple pitfalls; some pitfalls were personal, and others related to my PhD.
Yet Nutmeg (and my husband) has been a constant throughout the sometimes turbulent and rough times. There is nothing like a dog’s unwavering affection to pick up your mood, especially when they come running to your lap at the first hint of sadness.
Nutmeg loves to think that she is a human. She sits upright, sleeps under the covers with her head on the pillow and will “talk” to us through a series of growls, whines, and Chewbacca noises when she wants something. She has a large (and growing) collection of toys and when we arrive home, she sprints around the house to find her latest favourite. She then proudly carries this around the house to let us know just how excited she is that we are home.
Nutmeg is so many things to my husband and me. She is a source of cuddles, laughter, joy, and happiness. She approaches life with a fearlessness that is hard to ignore.
Even if you do not have a dog, there are many lessons to be learnt from the ways that Nutmeg (and other dogs) interact with the world. For Nutmeg, if she has had her dinner, we are home and she can play with her favourite toy, she is content and happy. For Nutmeg, love is ever-present and all she could ever need.
Perhaps for those of us who are stressing about an assignment or thesis chapter we have to send to our supervisors, this is a good reminder that we should all try to live a little more like Nutmeg: happy, carefree, full of love and enjoying all the joys that life can bring.