Since I was 12 we’ve had a dog. I can’t imagine a house without a mutt traipsing around after me, getting in my way, or leaning on my leg when I’m sad like they know and understand.
My first dog was Tess. A boxer/staffy cross. She was full of beans and twice as bouncy. Not great around little kids as they only encouraged her rambunctiousness, but with me and my younger brother she was an absolute star. She was so protective of us and looked a lot tougher than she actually was, a great deterrent for ne’er do wells when we were walking her alone.
I was 23 when she died, she had cancer and had to be put down, but she was a real beautiful, belter of a dog and she’s still missed.
About six months later Sam came into our lives. Sam again was a boxer/staffy cross but with a bit more staff and a bit less box than Tess. I’d left home by that point and she was my parents dog, but we took a real shine to her. She was a bit too energetic for a couple on the slide towards retirement, so she came to live with us.
During the days she would accompany my husband to work, the evenings she’d spend snuggled on the sofa with me. She genuinely was one of my best friends, she always knew when I needed her curled at my feet and always woke me by sticking her cold nose against the back of my knee under the covers and giving my leg a gentle lick.
In 2010 I fell pregnant. Sam was to all intents and purposes my baby and had been since she moved in. We knew having a rival in the house would be difficult, but we underestimated just how put out she would be. When we brought Benjamin home in November 2010 she moved out that same evening. It was hate at first sight.
We tried for months to assimilate her back into the house but she wouldn’t have any of it. Reluctantly she moved back in with my Dad, now divorced from my Mum. He got a bit lonely of an evening and she was an older dog set in her ways. It seemed and was the most logical thing to do. We could still see her and spend time with her, but we weren’t putting Benjamin in any danger.
Thankfully as soon as Benjamin found his feet, began toddling and looked like an actual human being rather than a strange, alien crying thing, her mind was changed. She fell as in love with him as we did and the feeling was mutual. Now boy and dog were best friends. We’d even get a growling at if we tickled him, she was so protective of him.
Benjamin is obsessed with her now and they’ve been best friends for a good two years. She is by any standards ancient, she’ll be 14 this year and her legs are very wobbly. Big dogs do not age well. She still has spirit and she’s still in love with Benjamin, but she can’t chase him round like she used to. He loves to look after her, fill her water bowl, feed her and brush her. It’s great for him, he’s learning a little bit about responsibility.
She still lives with my Dad but only because it’d be cruel to uproot her again, though she does come and stay the odd weekend and we have to physically keep them apart at night or Benjamin would be giggling his head off with her in the early hours.
The time will come soon when we have to say goodbye and Benjamin will learn a new lesson about loss. But that is part of life and an important part of what pets can teach children. Sad but true.
In time we will get a new dog. I think it’s important for a child to grow up with man’s best friend, I miss having a mutt at my feet and a furry cuddle when I need one.
If you’re thinking of getting a pet why not visit the Your Pet website and read about all the pets available, big and small, furry and not-so-furry!