My wife and I are currently experiencing early onset of empty nest syndrome. Although in our early 40s (well one of us is technically, the other, not so much), we bred very young and consequently have 3 of our 5 children out of the house. So we did what any self-respecting early 40s couple would do. We adopted a puppy. It was either that, or have another baby, and this option seemed so much easier.

But it was actually quite different to having another child, the biggest difference is that we didn’t need to survive the 9 months of pregnancy (given that my wife is possessed by a very scary and even dangerous spirit that resides in her from moment the line on the test goes blue until the baby is placed in her arms). And with pets you actually get to choose the breed. It was a long time ago when we had kids but I certainly don’t recall any discussions regarding options. Maybe its changed but it was like, you want a baby, great, have a baby. We were precluded from selecting any of those cute Asian ones (on account of the fact that neither of us are Asian) and it seemed that we were always going to have a podgy and pale Jewish looking one, no matter what.

But now we got to choose. Personally I was happy with a stupid breed. Having no need for the dog to do my banking or understand quantum physics, I put forward a suggestion of a Shiatsu (I swear, I had to write it down as I could spell it easier than I could pronounce it), but my 12 year old told me that they are “hairdresser dogs” and they only understand and listen to commands 25% of time, and even that is probably a fluke. Given that my son has not reached 17% in that department I was uncertain if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

My wife on the other hand wanted a tall thin dog, relying on the adage that over a period of time owners start to look like their pets. I felt it is too little too late for us in that department. So we settled on, and looked to buy a German shepherd, after making sure that my parents had no issue with us buying German — given that Daisy was born way after the war and both her parents were South African (I have their naturalization papers to prove it).

We were blessed to have had all our children naturally (being defined as “non IVF” and not natural birth in the episiotomy sort of way, God forbid), so we were unused to the screening process. But the breeder insisted that we go for an interview and that she needed to meet the entire family in order to approve the adoption. We panicked. How does one dress to a pet adoption interview? I could do job ones, press ones and wedding and bar mitzvahs. But this was new to us. My 1st thought was no leather, something natural and safari looking, which was the theme that we decided to go with. Anyone seeing us driving (in the Range Rover) on the way to this meeting in suburban Johannesburg would have thought we had just returned from the Okavango.

The other aspect was the importance, I told the kid, not to mention that we had our cats declawed for the sake of our furniture and curtains and certainly not to mention that we had to give FatCat a hip transplant because mom rode over it (whilst backing out of the driveway at speeds that would make the Stig envious). So we put on our “we love animals” look, sat on the floor (something I didn’t realize I could still do) and hugged those adorable German Shepherds. We wanted her to be part of the family and not a guard dog (I read somewhere that breeders like to hear that).

And then Daisy (whose registered name is actually Hanna-Lora) came home. She wasn’t Asian, but hell she was cute. And everything that was meant to happen did. The kids got jealous of our affection, they started acting up, my wife was up through the night comforting and nurturing her, was exhausted in the morning and our life was chaos. We filled that nest and we had filled it well. We took photos of Daisy just being Daisy, and started to annoy our friends and family with updates on her progress and the fact that she is now eating 160g per day (and is so smart). It is perfect. Our nest is full, we are run ragged and we hardly even miss the ones who have left home.