When I was a child I was desperate for a dog. Instead of pop singers and movie stars, I had posters of puppies adorning my bedroom walls. I’d lie on my bed and learn the names of the different varieties, and dream of which one I’d own in the future. I loved visiting my relatives with their yappy Yorkshire terriers, especially when I was occasionally allowed to walk them. I even had an imaginary dog called Mickey. However like the character in my favourite story book (“Desperate for a Dog”), my parents weren’t too keen to have one in the family! The happiest memory of my childhood is being taken to an RSPCA home to pick a puppy to take home, the saddest memory was being told the next day that my parents had changed their mind about the pet! Forever traumatised! 😉
Fast forward many years, and luckily I married someone who was even keener than me to get one at some point. When we were both working it didn’t seem practical, however after fifteen months of being ill, Phil started suggesting that we go and choose a dog. A year into my illness and I was desperately lonely at home. Going from a job surrounded by 30 animated faces every day, to being home alone, was quite a difficult adjustment. However, although I was excited by the thought of getting a dog, I was also really nervous about whether I’d be able to cope with being in charge of one on my own. It took a fair amount of persuasion, but soon we were in the dogs home picking one to take home.
And what a fabulous choice we made. I initially wasn’t keen on any of the dogs in the home; they were all scared of my mobility scooter and started barking and howling at me when I drove by! However Lottie was the exception, and she happily came on a walk with us, before immediately rolling on to her back so Phil would stroke her tummy! We were instantly smitten.
And that’s how it has remained for the past two years. Lottie has turned out to be the ideal dog for us. From the beginning she seemed to sense that I was ill; she will jump manically all over Phil or guests that she loves, yet will always be really gentle and loving with me. My fears about not having the energy to look after her alone, were uncalled for; like a perfect paradox, she will happily spend her days asleep cuddled up to me, and her evenings running in the local fields with Phil. She was an instant antidote to my loneliness; she follows me around the house, always wanting to be in sight, whether I’m spending the day ill in bed, or sunbathing in the garden. She runs up the stairs each morning, jumps on my bed and greets me with a massive smile and wagging tail; she makes me feel loved. She also forced me to get out of the house and in to the world. Without having a dog to walk every day, I could very easily have spiralled down and not left the house for weeks at a time. Feeling the sun on your face is a natural mood enhancer, and this has become our favourite family time of the day- Phil and I chatting whilst Lottie runs around madly.
Then there are the three benefits we weren’t expecting. Lottie is a great recipient for my maternal love as we are unable to have children because of my illness. Like any proud parents, we WhatsApp videos and photos of her to each other, have boastful conversations when she’s learnt a new trick, and buy her gifts at every opportunity! Secondly, when I first became ill, I felt very reliant upon other people. I was unable to do a lot, but it was comforting to know that somebody needed me, having Lottie gave me a small responsibility. I relished that I had a job to do each day- feeding her and letting her out in the garden. I wasn’t just being a drain but was contributing to the world in some very tiny way. Finally, Lottie has brought great joy to our home, much more than we were ever expecting. She makes us laugh and smile every day; running around madly when she’s excited, and smelling anyone and anything. If I cry, she will start sniffing my face, instantly making me giggle, or jump in between us for a family cuddle! I’m now a big advocate for getting pets when you’re ill or home alone. Many of my fellow PH friends have similar cherished pets that help turn dark days in to good days.
So last weekend, Lottie the dog turned eight. We’ve actually no idea of her true age or birthday, so we celebrate a ‘guesstimate’ age on the anniversary of us collecting her from the Dogs Trust home. And like all cherished family members, she was treated to a birthday party. The weather rained on our picnic-at-Wrest-Park plans, so we quickly decorated the house and had a party at home. My superhero mad nephews chose the theme -Batman- so we all donned our costumes, Lottie wearing a cape homemade by myself. We made Batman window decorations, played with batman shooters in the garden, and ate an enormous picnic (including dog themed biscuits and a “Lottie-Pie”). Birthday presents were opened, party bags were enjoyed and a dog birthday cake was gobbled in one! Further presents came in the post from our family in the IOM. I love that they all treat Lottie as more than just a pet. 🙂
Apparently you can never have enough of a good thing, so with that in mind, we are incredibly keen to extend our furry family again! However that’ll have to wait until I’ve had my lung transplant- but “getting a puppy” is item number two on my bucket list!