It’s cold. Very cold. So cold I can’t seem to warm my hands and feet. My toes are curling upwards, my fingers bend inwards and my eyelashes curl sideways. Writing this post might go rather slow, so.
While my mum is lying on a beach in a warm country somewhere, I am minding her dogs. With pleasure.
What feels warm, though, is looking at my mum’s dogs, a Beagle lying next to my feet, oblivious to the world around her. The other one, a Cavoodle and also the funniest of the two, is helping me write this post by sitting on the side of my laptop. No time like the present for warming your tiny derrière on a warm laptop, I suppose.
Looking back in time, I’ve always been more a dog person than a cat girl. Cat/human relationships are built on conditional love and food, not necessarily in that order. Dog/human relationships are based on unconditional love, period.
I was lucky to grow up in a family that loved pets. There’s been cats and dogs of all sorts. Growing up with dogs especially has made me a dog lover for life. Because of housing restrictions, however, not having one for over a decade now has at times been painful. Dogs are the ultimate friend, and as the old adage goes, once you have a dog, you will never be complete again without one.
The joy is unimaginable. Nothing like a pup jumping around without reason, falling over his/her own feet and looking at you with total mischief in their eyes. Brilliant memories come running to my mind of past pups, seeing them growing up, the many long walks and the lying on my lap when they were not the size of a bulldozer yet (And even when they were the size of a bulldozer, they’d still try sitting on my lap making people say, “Look, there’s a dog with human legs sticking from under it!”)
Wolf was my “once in your lifetime dog”. And Wolf started life as “Dusty”. He was growing up fast and growing up looking like a wolf, sometimes scaring off people when we went walking. His dark saddle slowly disappeared as he grew taller, but his mischief remained.
People continued to be fascinated by him. Some would shout from across the street how beautiful he was while others walked over to ask what breed he was. He wasn’t a designer dog, but rather a “little genetic accident” as I would jokingly call him as his mum was a Doberman, his dad a Malamute.
Wolf became a tall, intelligent, talkative dog who knew how to show off to get treats. His energy endless, happy and always ready to play. And whomever the pack leader was at that moment in time, fool you. If he would meet Cesar Millan, he would have wound the famous Dog Whisperer around his paws without even blinking.
Whichever, he made one hell of a dog. I will miss him until my dying day.
There are many, many memories.
Wolf sitting in my lap in the car after collecting him, so utterly tiny, shivering, not knowing what just happened and where he’s going.
Wolf as a pup, trying to howl. Making me jump up of fright because I had no idea he was standing behind me while barking.
Wolf, all sixty kilograms of him jumping on my bed to wake me up and Wolf walking me instead of me walking Wolf.
During the daily walks, seeing him look up at me to see if I was still there. Our walks to the horse stables down the road and his nose-rubbing with the 2 resident horses.
Wolf barking on the phone after I moved to Ireland, me calling my parents to talk to Wolf. My colleagues calling me names for calling and talking to the dog.
Me flying 875 kilometers to be with him because he stopped eating properly after I moved to Ireland.
And also, Wolf living to his 13th birthday but crippled by painful legs. Saying goodbye to him knowing I would never see him again because he was in too much pain.
I still cry when I think of seeing him in pain. Getting the dreaded phone call that Wolf had been euthanized was awful, just gut-wrenchingly awful. Seven years later and I’m still crying over him.
Because of the bond I had with him, I don’t usually watch films about dogs. I couldn’t resist watching Marley and Me, though, and it was a painful thing because Wolf was a lot like Marley. Big, funny, mind of his own, always ready to joke around, and when Marley being euthanized, I couldn’t stop crying. That had been Wolf also, and I wasn’t around when he was put to sleep. Guilt, pain and yearning for him to still be alive.
On Tuesday, I heard a song called “Bright Eyes” and my eyes welled up, a flash memory of Wolf looking at me the way he used to. “Are you here?” or “Let’s go for a walk” or “I think I deserve a dog cookie, don’t you think so?” I’ve often wondered if the six other pups in the litter turned out like Wolf, and what their temperament would be like.
It’s hard to explain to people who never had a dog, but dogs are truly a part of your family. They have a special place in your family unit because of their unconditional love and friendship, and in return, they should receive the best home possible. When people complain about dog hair on their clothes, sorry but the dog lives here, you don’t. When people think they bark a bit too much, sorry, but my dog is protecting me.
Is it any wonder so that my eyes lit up when I see a dog?
Last year, my mum added Ziggy to the family, the funny Cavoodle who keeps dropping part of himself on the laptop as I am writing this, and he captured my heart from the first glance at his cheeky eyes. He adopted my mum after his owners moved into a retirement home, and he was left behind. Like all dogs before him, he thinks I can’t find my own way to the bathroom or to the kitchen. For now, I am his biggest fan.
And he is my favourite pet right now. I am not and I will never forget him because he’s funny and handsome with his curly, red hair. Nine years old but still as mischievous as a pup. Mum’s cat is his four-legged best friend, they chase each other around the garden and house and I secretly suspect Ziggy thinks Kato is also a dog, but we’re leaving him think so.
Returning to Dublin next week will be with tears in my heart because once there was Wolf, now there is Ziggy. Wolf in my heart, Ziggy in front of my eyes and with his bum still on the ‘enter’ key on my laptop. Needless to say, a major cleanup session of said laptop will take place when he finally removes all of himself from said laptop.
I have been blessed with the pets that completed my family. They truly fill a hole in your hearts you never even knew existed.
I look forward to the day where I know a dog will be part of my life again because love is when you’re watching a sad movie and your dog sees you crying, and comes over to comfort you. Happiness is a soft little furry dog laying against the side of your leg as you watch TV on the couch.
It is quiet, loving, unconditional companionship.
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