Supporting Britain's Next Top Dog and How I Live Now

Has your dog got what it takes to become Britain’s Next Top Dog? We’re delighted to be supporting Britain’s Next Top Dog in aid of Cancer Research UK. If you’re the proud owner of a potentially prize-winning pooch there’s still time to enter the competition here.

Our Founder and Creative Director Emma Bridgewater has a new four-legged friend Gilly who’s hoping to enter the Playful or Off-Road category...

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How I live now...

.... is much complicated by my sturdy small brown friend Gilbert, more usually Gilly, but when I'm flustered and chasing him to stop him chasing the ducks ( horribly visibly, in front of some anxious toddlers) I find I shout almost any name that comes to mind- Puppy! Billy! Dobby!- so perhaps it's not surprising that he mostly just grins at me over his shoulder as he romps around the park.

Gilly is a poodle cross, and without much research beyond admiring his half sister who belongs to a friend, I committed to him impulsively when I heard about the litter; he's notably devoted like all poodles, but his legs are VERY short, and he is extremely fluffy, and of course, devoted to the muddiest places- argh!!

I am convinced that we think least systematically about the most important acquisitions in our lives (own up anyone who bought the house because of say, the huge wisteria!) But as with houses, I like an element of fate in the transaction, and I'm very bad at listing pros and cons sensibly; Gilly is the dog I was meant to be found by.

As I'm sure lots of people are discovering at the moment- or like me, rediscovering in some surprise ( as with a baby, we forget all but the positive, aren't we sweet?)- the arrival of a puppy in your life is marvellous fun, hugely time consuming and a total disruption of all your nice orderly plans for living. Margaret's knitting project, put down when the delivery man rang the bell, is pounced on with predictably chaotic results...

Gilly really badly wants to join in with whatever his family are doing- resulting in awful havoc among the rows of radishes and lettuces; he collects teatowels in his basket; he unpacks my suitcase the moment my back is turned and he loves to get his head into the washing up machine as I'm stacking it. I find his curiosity and enthusiasms enchanting and I remember all over again the very funny companionship of a dog; so I find jobs for him where I can, for example putting him in charge of plastic flower pots- he loves chucking them about and chasing them - and of course, chewing them.

The fact is, I very nearly decided not to go back to being a dog owner, finding the lack of ties and responsibilities that a dog most definitely represents rather compelling. But I realised that I didn't like it at all when I caught myself in the act of streamlining my life, and thinking of a dog as an inconvenience. Since the day I went to collect Gilly from a lovely family in Hertfordshire my life is muddier, I spend time every day picking up behind him as he is a prodigious litter dispenser, I loiter in new aisles in the supermarket pondering dog treats, I walk twice a day- but so far very short distances- (I do hope his legs are longer when he's old enough to tackle proper long days of walking!); I also talk to strangers ( when attached to dogs).

I also know that we are getting used to each other and building a relationship that makes my life ( his too I do hope!) much richer. When we drive to the beach he rides in the boot of the car, paws up on the back seats, squeaking with anticipatory joy - and seeing his excited face in my rear view mirror just makes that trip ten times nicer.

- Emma

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