You need looking after? Buy a dog.

Okay, so I’m a fan of promises and new starts and new projects; all the fresh fun bits that come before the hard work and fear kicks in. That’s why I make promises all the time, including that promise I made to stop hiding in Bogotá and actually do something with my life.

When the universe came together in an inexplicable way and I ended up on the radio, gossiping merrily about my idiosyncrasies in my own idiosyncratic way, it was my first step to admitting that, yes, well I do write this stuff, actually it’s my life’s work and yes, I am proud enough and brave enough to tell the world about it.

That led to a deluge of letters and emails for which even I was unprepared, so much so that I doggedly replied to all of them and was up the first night until 1am – ridiculous in a town where everyone knows you get up with the lark and really, you shouldn’t still be on the streets at 9pm because that will leave you heavy-eyed the next day,

Needless to say the locura continued (one lovely man even wrote and said listening to me reminded him of Pope Francisco. That’s an outstanding feat considering how many confessions I managed to pack into one 20-minute chat) The day of the Banana Skin Flip Flops party I was up at 5am. By the time I arrived at 5pm, I was shattered.

But there were so many lovely people to meet and so many friends there to support me that I ended up chatting, gossiping and swapping stories for hours. Somehow I forgot to eat (until my flatmate reminded me) and by the time I figured it was time for me to crawl home, it was 12.30am and I was only able to speak in harsh, croaky bursts.

One of the few people who didn’t manage to come to the party, nor find time to listen to the interview, was the Colombian I have been oh-so-vaguely dating. When I finally did manage to see him, I was so tired I looked like a ghost, what with my pale face and dark eyes and those 500 facebook friend requests I didn’t quite know how to deal with.

I was overwhelmed. He listened without sympathy.

“You know what?” I said finally, exasperated by the smirk on his face.

“Maybe I just need someone to look after me.”

He didn’t need to pause.

“Buy a dog,” he said.

Okay, so it’s funny. It’s funny until you remember that I had to re-arrange the shock on my face and gracefully exit the building before I could go home, all the while juggling my wounded pride and that internal anger that comes when we realise we’ve dropped our guard (in defence to the young man in question, while I would certainly never see him again, I appreciate that artistic people are difficult to be around. If we’re selfish, neurotic and self-involved when we’re struggling, we’re surely a hundred times worse when we’re actually doing well)

But those words – “Buy a dog,” – have stuck with me. Not so much because they reveal the character of the man who uttered them, but because I cannot believe I was the one who needed to hear them. Do I seriously need looking after?

As capitalism goes, I’m a lottery winner. I was born able and well into a white middle-class family in a fairly affluent nation. In fact, the only thing I possibly have to contend with is being a woman (hear me out) and that is even more reason not to confess your fears, particularly when they’re solely sparked by a swollen inbox and a busy cocktail party.

Women, as we know deep down, still have a huge battle to fight. According to Newsweek (a year-old article but I doubt life has changed much) women comprise around 16% of the workforce in almost every profession. Despite filling a third of MBA classes they comprise just two per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs, something like six per cent of top earners, eight per cent of top leadership positions etc. Politics is even worse – in the US when the article was printed (and remember they’re supposedly world leaders at this stuff) just nine of the 100 largest cities had female mayors and Senate and the House of Representatives was a mere 17% female. There were three female Supreme Court justices.

Last week’s Economist laments that women are more likely to quit their jobs because they feel undervalued; laments that even brilliant female entrepreneurs tend to start smaller businesses than men and, worse, laments that they struggle to attract the same level of investment from the “notoriously male dominated world” of venture capitalism.

If facebook had been invented by a woman, would it have even got off the ground?

Add together all this and throw in the fact that apparently women are against women, especially the genetically blessed ones, oh and the fact feminism supposedly never filtered down the social spectrum so those at the bottom are even worse off and I – a person openly fascinated by this stuff and a self-confessed feminist – seriously stood in front of a young man and said: “Hey, erm, would you mind awfully holding my hand through all this?”

God I am so embarrassed I almost went down to the Pet Shop District, bought the first Alsatian puppy I could find and set it on every man in a five mile radius.

I only calmed down when I realised it would be far better to tattoo the words BUY-A-DOG on my wrist so every time I’m tempted to show a grain of weakness I’ll remember the battle I’m supposed to be fighting, shut my mouth, jut out my chin and just get the hell on with it.

Because it turns out that if we are going to keep our promises and chase those dreams that give such important meaning to our lives, there really is only one person we can rely on. That would be ourselves. Oh and the tattoo artist. Assuming he can spell the word ‘dog’ correctly.

Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.


  1. Javier

    Oh Vicky. I’m not buying it entirely. Sure what you say is right, we all have to rely on ourselves and we should expect to do things on our own right. But no man/woman is an island. We all need a support system, we all need love, caring and compassion to go through. There’s only so much you can do on your own.
    You don’t need a tattoo. You only need to drive forward and not be thinking in absolutes.

  2. Eric

    Two things…

    First off, there’s a great TED talk out there by the Facebook CEO (a woman) and gives a GREAT speech about why there aren’t enough women in the workplace. Watch it if you haven’t already!

    Second, I was stupid. I adopted a dog on Sat b/c I thought I could help him, and unfortunately, now I need to find him a new family. I feel like I’m a horrible person… please, get the tattoo 😦

  3. Tom

    yikes… I want to buy you a dog (if only because I live in NYC and am married, so can’t do much else but sympathize in a stupid comment on your blog). Imagine telling you to go get one yourself!! Are all men really that bad? I’d like to think not. Although I was surprised that I didn’t end up marrying a Colombian woman, I’ve found the vast majority of Colombian women to be delightfully friendly, kind, and engaging. I’m sorry if that’s not the case with the men as well.

    Chin up!!


  4. HARRY S

    I tend to have the same psyche as you although I know its not the best way to be in all situations. I like to rely on myself ninety five percent of the time but as Javier above put it we are not an island. People need support and friendships even though sometimes I get so angry that I tend to ignore that reality. The bottom line is some people are just douche bags. I tend to forget that fact as well quite frequently only to be reminded in the least opportune time. Yes, do keep your chin up.

  5. SBuri

    mmm… I don’t know Vicky if I agree with you. I think one of our strengths as women is the unapologetic awareness of our weaknesses. I feel sorry for men as they are socially crucified when they cry, show their emotions, or ask for help. We live in a society with a male-imposed superman complex and I think we would be better of with “soapier” men. That been said and with a little help from a criollo tattoo artist: just “adopt a doc”. Cheers

  6. juanantonio195202

    Hey Vicki, loved the post. Not so much your situation. “Life’s a bitch and then you die” was a popular saying as I was maturing in the 1970’s and 80’s Toronto. Yes it’s sexist. But it means you have to suck it up and keep going. Never let anyone steal your sunshine. You are awesome and we all love and respect you and your work. Please do not give someone power over you. YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF BLOGS.
    I love dogs and hate tattoos. LOL.

  7. lolmus

    It´s very smart and entertaining. A big but though, and now that I think of it, not sure if it´s a cultural difference between europeans and latin americans. You can rely on people, it is a fair and lovely thing to create and dream next to someone, as long as both dreams are being fed and lead to the same objectives.
    I just followed you yesterday and I´m eager to read more. Good day!
    p.s. what zodiac sign are you?

  8. Angela

    me encanta el comentario de juan antonio, tranquila vicky es solo un dicho popular de alguien o muy grosero o ligeramente gracioso. y no todos los hombres colombianos no son así, la gran mayoria son encantadores. bye.

  9. Emma P

    It’s possible to be a feminist and still get the odd moment of emotional support from your boyfriend. Occasionally they are useful for more than just lifting heavy stuff (I know, it was a surprise to me too!). Hope you had a lovely party xx

  10. alittlecameo

    I suspect getting a dog would be on about a par as keeping the street dog who told you that. Perhaps he thinks you just want to see deep pools of shining liquid love emanating from eyes. What getting a dog still wouldn´t give you is that support and understanding that comes with the pearls of wisdom shared by people who are close enough to comfort brilliantly, yet just far enough to be objective.

    I pondered the same thing about being a strong, independent and self-sufficient person last week after being struck down with some nasty fever leaving me a limp pile of sook clawing for all the attention of mi novio. But we are all allowed moments to be on the receiving end of a cup of tea and sympathy. That actually makes us better strong, independent and self-sufficient people who can do that for others in their moment of need.

    I´m glad your party was fab! I suggested to a blonde friend who has been living in Bogotá off and on for a year that she should make an appearance after she told me she doesn´t really have any friends there and also a random backpacker who was staying in Taganga and told me he´d love to start a funk band in Colombia. I think I must be turning Colombian, inviting people to other people´s parties.

  11. corpopazciencia2013

    Vicky, Love your blogs and this one especially though I believe that being vulnerable is not being week and sure you risk being hurt, but as a university friend repeated constantly: “If there is no pain there is no gain.” Life is as beautiful as roses but you have to learn to deal with the thorns. Thorns are there to out the best of you when you get to the flower.
    Thank you for sharing, LOL,
    Mauricio Torres Madrid

  12. Ceri

    It’s completely possible to be a strong, hardworking woman and need that emotional support from time to time. That’s not a weakness; That’s just part of who we are as females. We can block everything out and work towards achieving our dreams but the fact is, we’ll always be different fro men because that’s how we’re built. Every now and again we do need someone alongside us to show that they’re there – whether it’s a partner, a family member or a friend – and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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