“Mammy, can we have a pet?” Oh god. Why can’t they ask me about death or how rainbows are made or something? Not the pet question. Please not the pet question. “We'll see.” My safe non-committal answer. “No. No see’s.” Dammit, I’ve used that loophole once too often. “Why can’t we just have a pet? A little cute one.” “Because, because, well, where would the pet sleep?” “In my room.” Another helpful little person piped in then, “or with you and daddy.” I throw an “do you really think that’s going to happen” look at the offending child in the rear view mirror but he was looking at his older brother and nodding furiously, as if they’d solved the one and only problem that lay between them getting a cute pet. “Mammy, we could have a rabbit. A little cute white one.” “Or a guinea pig!” “Yeah! Or a dog! Mammy can we have a dog?” “Lads, pets cost money you know.” Amongst other things. “But, I’m saving up Mammy. We could use my money for a pet instead of buying the tarmac.” This’ll break your heart. Screecher Creature No. 1 has a savings tin under the kitchen sink and in fairness to him, he does put his coins into it. He is saving hard so he can “ring the man who comes to do the tarmac so we can ride our bicycles.” My poor, desperate, deprived kids who have nowhere to ride their bicycles except on a lumpy bumpy half acre or so of gorgeous, lush green grass at the back of the house. “So, can we, Mammy? Can we have a pet?” “Oh, look at the tractor!” Nothing like a tractor for a bit of distraction and oh look again. Here we are. Home. Saved for another day. Can you tell I’m not into animals? I feel mean. I do but my kids have an attention span of about 36 seconds. After that, they just do not want to know. Anyway, it’s not like I have to win an argument by pointing out they are way too young for a pet. Kids are great, they’re resourceful and imaginative. They will find something else, something totally different to obsess about in the afternoon. And they did. The two oldest boys came in with their arms outstretched to show me the tiniest, microscopic red worm, one each, that they had found in the water hole out the front. They proudly introduced them as their new pets. Holy mother of god! How on earth did they manage to find these tiny, disgusting wriggling, writhing, bits of thread? These are the kids who cannot see a pair of socks under their noses. Ones that are jumping up and down going, here I am, here I am, look, can you not see me. No, they cannot see obvious things like socks, shoes, school bags and clothes but they can see next to invisible red worms. “Mine’s a girl worm, mammy. And she’s going to have lots of babies. In the morning.” “Can I bring mine for a walk, mammy?” Eh……….. “Oh, look at the tractor!” We were in the sitting room and they looked around for the tractor so I made good on my escape. And then The Dog appeared. A real live one, with legs and everything. Friendly enough, looked like it had been looked after if a bit tatty looking now, and Jesus trying to getintothehouse! “Mammy, can we keep him?” “Mammy! He can be our new pet!” A pair of hazel eyes and a pair of blue ones shone up at me, delight, expectation and joy written all over their faces. They started jumping up and down and clapping their hands. All of their pet problems solved by the random appearance of a shaggy white dog that looked like it had been sired by at least 5 other dogs. Almost as if it could sense the fizzing excitement inside, the cute hoor looked up at the lads and gave a little bark. I swear it was saying hello. Well, hasta la vista baby, you ain’t getting your foot over the threshold here. And just like that all talks of bringing red wriggly thread worm types for a walk were forgotten. The naming process began and Screecher Creature No. 1 christened it a few times before settling on “Lola.” “Lola” is a nuisance. “Lola” likes my kids. Although it took Screecher Creature No. 2 several hours to stop yelping himself every time “Lola” so much as looked at him. Screecher Creature No. 4 has had his face cleaned several times over by “Lola” and once he vanished altogether in the garden. I heard a muffled shout of indignation and annoyance come from “Lola’s” direction and the child crawled out from underneath the shedding shaggy tent that draped over him. Suddenly it was all, “Mammy, Lola’s nose is dry. Hannah says that means he’s thirsty.” And “Mammy, can we feed Lola?” Shit! We have to feed “Lola?” I mean, shit we have to feed the stray dog? What do dogs eat? Besides annoying children who keep patting them and shrieking every time the dog jumps up on them. Is Weetabix a good food for a dog? Wait. Hold on. I’ve seen what Weetabix can do to my kids’ bowels. This is a dog we’re talking about. A big dog. Bigger bowels. Bigger shit. All over my garden. Ah crap! See? Not lovin’ animals. And then “Lola” started scratching himself. Ah fresh hell! Fleas! This pooch has got to go. I’m not able for this. I’m really not. “Mammy! Lola’s able to fetch a ball!” Screecher Creature No. 1 raced in to announce super bleedin’ dog’s latest amazing super dog talent. “That’s great, Conor. Hand me the phone, would you?” “Who are you ringing, Mammy?” “Eh, no-one. Go on out there and mind the dog doesn’t swallow your brother.” “Mammy, stop messin’. Lola would never do that.” But he went out anyway and left me in peace so I could make a few phone calls to various people. Two hours and a few wrong numbers later, my details and those of the dog, had been left with the vet, the guards, the local boarding kennels, the neighbourhood watch and the dog warden. KSPCA, Facebook and lostdog.ie had also been notified of “Lola’s” sudden appearance at my house. I’m not softening towards the dog, I’m not. But last night when it was lashing rain and poor old “Lola” was curled up under the table in the garden for shelter, I felt awful. I needed a distraction quick. Oh look, it’s your bedtime! Obviously not awful enough to invite the wolf into my house. I’ve read the fairy tales. I know what happens. Funny how I forgot all about feeling awful when it came to my own curling up and falling asleep. Mister Husband was away overnight. When he arrived home the next morning he proceeded to fawn all over the new arrival. I know trouble when I see it. I had a go at the distraction technique. “Look at the tractor!” Didn’t work. Should have picked a more age appropriate distraction. Enough bonding. I rounded them all up into the car and away. Far, far away from the new cuddly toy. But I could only do so much. Dogs have a funny effect on people. Except me. Mister Husband took “Lola” into the vets to see if he was micro-chipped and he returned home with a wormed and de-flead dog. Wearing a collar. Oh oh. I could hear the door closing, slowly sealing my fate. “Lola” was found to be in rude health, not chipped and ours to keep “for the time being.” Slam! I know when I’m beaten. Because it had been medically confirmed that “Lola” was not a showgirl and was in full and definite possession of all his body parts, the re-naming ceremony started. Mister Husband, being topical, suggested Johnjoenevin. The kids looked blank when I came up with Mr. Grey. One of the girls from next door took a shine to Brax but I knew I wouldn’t be able for the regular calling out of Brax only to have a four legged shaggy creature run to me in response. I threw out raydarcy in homage to larrygogan, the dog from one of the Roddy Doyle books but in the end Screecher Creature settled on Lenny. So Lenny has gotten for himself, new water and food dishes, a collar and a home for the foreseeable future. Not bad for 3 days work. Mister husband reckons there’s more work to be done, however. As the man himself said, “I’ve won over the dog. All I need to do now is win over the bitch.” I sincerely hope he wasn’t referring to me!