I don't know if the unnamed, ungendered narrator in the 24-Hour Dog is supposed to be Winterson - it certainly seems like it could. The narrator captures a lot of the broad strokes of dogness beautifully: "I made him walk on a lead and he jumped for joy, the way creatures do, and children do and adults don't do, and spend their lives wondering where the leap went"; "This was a little bit of evolution that endlessly repeats itself in the young and new-born thing. In this moment there are no cares or aeroplanes. The Sistine Chapel is unpainted, no book has been written"; I looked at him, trusting, vulnerable, love without caution. He was a new beginning and every new beginning returns the world. In him, the rain forests were pristine and the sea had not been blunted."
She keeps the dog for a day and then returns him to the farmer because "he has found me out". The experience is too intense and the dog will be happier with "children and ducks and company", but he will not be "the kind of dog he could have been if I had met him edge to edge, his intensity and mine... What would I have done? Taught him to read?"
Holy hell, what kind of pretentious bullshit is that? It's a dog - it was never going to quote Shakespeare, and you gave him back because he howled all night and you like your sleep.
That said, I lay awake the first night Lucy cried piteously (not for all that long) in her crate at the foot of my bed, Matt on the couch downstairs, Angus in the basement and Eve down the hall with earplugs behind a firmly closed door, and I felt that same rush of terror and self-doubt and "why did I think I could do this?" that I felt when we brought Angus home. People do this all the time, but I don't deal well with change, and the kind of change that disturbs the night tends to tweak my anxiety/insomnia trigger. I was scared.
But she's not a baby. She's a dog. A small dog. Sometimes she leaves unpleasant substances around the house, but it's a small amount. Those babies that I brought home and was terrified at being responsible for are big, strapping people that can take on a lot of the responsibility for this furry little pain in the butt.
I was over at a friend's house and she was saying that her son was out on a date with a girl, and she was totally exasperated at the way she'd wanted her kids to hurry up and grow and now all of a sudden here they were, grown. And it's true. Actually even if you DON'T want them to hurry up and grow it's true. So I'm trying not to wish this away. I'm taking a sleeping pill now and then so I won't be lying awake waiting for her to need to go out. I'm enjoying watching tv with a lapful of warm puppy and trying not to worry about what else I should be doing. Last night I put her in her crate, went to get ready for bed, and when I came out of the bathroom both her and my husband were snoring happily.
She's a baby. She's a ridiculous upheaval in the routine. She's a rallying point for the family. She's a dire threat to my bath mat. She's a new beginning that returns the world.
She's just a dog. We're keeping her.