My daughter is concerned that we may have found ourselves with another ambivalent dog.
“I thought Vizslas were supposed to follow you into the bathroom.”
Despite the fact that she does much of the care during the day the puppy is sometimes aloof to the point of rudeness, bypassing the welcoming of an incoming family member in favour of sitting on the head of the older dog for no apparent reason.
I am no stranger to canine indifference.
When I come in Daisy will rarely wag her tail and barely looks up from her slumber, unless there is a biscuit in it for her.
Ironically, there is a synergy between the way the dogs behave and the way that the children behave.
They are all happy enough to be with us but similarly comfortable when they are not.
This, of course, is a good thing even if it takes some reminding.
At scout camp in 1977, my mother was called to bring me home early after Stephen Stubbs threw an enamel plate into the air and it came down brushing the back of my head before landing in the damp earth.
It wasn’t a shattering blow but it was reason enough for me to finally release the emotions I had been strenuously holding onto caused by crippling homesickness that I was too fearful to display.
A plate to the back of the head was all the reason I needed to shun the strenuous attempts of the scoutmaster to placate me and to demand I be collected and taken away from the tyranny of sleeping under canvas and eating sausages cooked over an open fire.
An unadventurous child in any case my anxiety at being away from home was something that my mother either didn’t understand or did understand but wanted to deny.
To put it another way, I would definitely be following you into the bathroom.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why my anxious attachment developed.
Maybe it was growing up in a house with constantly bickering parents.
Possibly it was the several weeks I spent separated from my mother after being hospitalised with asthma as a young child.
It could have been the anxiety I picked up from my mother when she was unable to breastfeed and heartbroken because of it.
Whatever it was, feeling like I couldn’t be away from home and doubting the strength of my bonds to other people was miserable for me and, I am sure, for my parents.
Conscious of my own wobbly sense of security I tried to be a more consistent father to my own children.
As they got older I’d ask them if they wanted to come with me to wherever I was going or whether they preferred to stay home and, in so doing, tried to make sure they could see I was OK with whatever they felt they wanted.
If they called and said they’d be invited to a friend for tea at the last minute I would let them stay, even if it meant a dearth of oven chips and fish fingers.
I imagined myself in the same situation asking my mother and either choosing to stay with a burden of guilt or choosing to go back home and feeling resentful of my own inability to meet my own wishes.
Secure attachment is a paradox really because being securely attached really means that you are completely and wonderfully free.
My children are grown up and seem perfectly happy to be away, and perfectly happy to come home.
Neither they nor the dogs will follow me into the bathroom and, the part of me that might wish that they would is simply a vestige of my past and not a reflection of their love.