WE'D been toying with the idea of getting a dog for a few years, but that's how it goes: you toy, surf the net for kid-friendly breeds, play wistfully with other people's pets and remind yourself that no matter how clear the rules are, it's the mom who ends up scooping poop and teaching the mutt not to doze on the duvet.
Getting a dog is like having children – the theory is sound, but reality bites. And, just as you did during pyjama drill and pre-dawn newborn feeding sprees, you'll occasionally ask: what was I thinking?
Since my rescued Maltese poodle died several years ago, I'd forgotten how much work it was to parent a dog. After parenting humans, I assumed that homing a Lassie would be child's play. My fantasy sketch involving joyful, frisbee-bearing children and a panting pup crashed, boomed, banged within two hours of bringing Miss Molly back to her "forever home" with us.
And honey, it had nothing to do with the dog. Because, as I've learned over the past two weeks, dog spelt backwards ain't a grammatical evolutionary mistake.
Whether you believe in a great spiritual plan or not, it can't be coincidence that a pet shows you up for who and what you are. I've always considered myself an animal person – a latent dog whisperer who, reincarnated, might talk to the bees for a living and wow suburban housewives with my deep skills and guru-standard body language.
But when the resident cats took offence to their housemate – and the terrier in Molly felt it only fitting to chew one each of the toddler's various Spiderman and Pooh Bear slip-slops and gum boots, I realised that for a girl who thought she knew a lot, I didn't.
And that's how I justify my theory that for every home with a hound, a visit from Philip van Heerden is a must. If he's not close by, then any other top animal behaviourist will do.
After watching dog whispering in action, like on TV, in the comfort of my lounge, I'm not sure bog-ordinary people like you and I have the slightest clue what we're doing.
You know that friend whose small and cute dog launches itself, apparently ecstatic to see you again, the second you're through the front door? Don't be fooled. This 2.5kg package of canine doesn't love you in the least. She has small dog syndrome – and by covering you with kisses and playful nips, she's letting you know she's boss.
When Philip greets a dog, he doesn't greet a dog: he ignores it. Patting, smiling and speaking in high-pitched baby language upon meeting a mutt isn't normal social interaction for canines; it just gets them riled and ready to jump, bite, dominate, rip stuff and dig a hole under your fence.
The problem with humans, says Philip, is that we expect our dogs to think like us. When really, they think like dogs. In your home, you're all a pack. And somebody has to be the leader. If you're not primed for that position, your dog will feel compelled to do it – and being in charge is stressful, especially when your pack followers randomly leave you in their cars without your permission, put you outside for a wee on a whim and shout at you in a strange language for "schloffing" on the sofa when you're simply taking a high position in order to survey your dominion.
Miss Molly doesn't jump on me anymore and she mostly ignores the cats. She worships me as her supreme being and I'm okay with that now that I understand democracy doesn't exist in dog land.
It's a funny thing, because the household in general listens more attentively to me now, even though I don't withhold food from them or shout at them for "schloffing" on the couch.
I'm simply better leadership material these days, really, thanks to Miss Molly and Philip.
Take my advice and run with it. If you're aiming to be CEO of your own, perfect world, get a dog. They're worth their weight in poop.