I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in 11 cities and 3 countries. It usually takes about 6 months to settle in and stop wishing I was back where I came from. The first two months are crazy busy setting up a home, buying forks, putting together Ikea furniture, hooking up cable TV, getting the girls ready for school, and just figuring out how things work. But once things settle down I realize I’m lonely because I’ve been too busy to make friends.

Before I had children I would make friends through work. Once I had children I made friends by hanging around at school drop off, after school activities and the occasional PTA meeting. Happily many of the other mothers became lifelong friends and they were typically very much like me. They had children my age, were socially and economically similar and spent their days doing similar things. Now that my girls are teenagers they no longer allow me to loiter around their school prowling for friends.

So after our latest move I got a dog. His name is Rudy. I like Rudy but I like what he’s done for my social life even more. Dogs are people attractors. You can’t lay in bed and feel sorry for yourself when you have a dog. If you do they will chew all your shoes and shit on your rug. Dogs force you to have a routine, get outside and interact with people. On our walks around the neighborhood Rudy and I met all the locals. On one of our first tours I meet a woman who told me about a park where dogs can run blissfully off the lead. 

Dog Mental Health

It was there that I realized every type of person from all walks of life loves a dog. I also discovered the Tea Pavilion where dog owners sit with a coffee or tea, talk and watch their dogs run free. In many ways it’s the playground all over again. Yes there’s a lot of “dog” talk. But there’s a lot of “life” talk too. I’ve had some of the funniest and most interesting conversations of my life at the Tea Pavilion. I think that’s because the cast of characters is so varied and represent such a wide segment of society.

I have never been happier sooner in a new city. My new friends include a sixty year old fashion illustration director at London College of Fashion, a thirty year old who started her own PR firm at twenty-four, a 37 year old massage therapist, and a 73 year old retired BBC news reader. When we meet for dinner or a movie we must seem an odd collection of women but we don’t care.

I have never laughed so hard, learned so much, made so welcome and felt so loved. Thank you Rudy.

Article by Anna Quick Palmer