It’s cold. Very cold. It’s so cold my toes are curling upwards, my fingers bend inwards and my eyelashes curl sideways. That’s how cold it is.
What feels warm is looking at my mum’s , one Beagle lying next to my feet, oblivious to the world around her. The other one, a Cavoodle, the funny, tiny one is helping me write this blog post by sitting on the side of my laptop… with his bum on the ‘enter’ key. No time like the present for warming your tiny bum on a warm laptop I suppose.
Looking back in time, I’ve always been more a dog-girl than a cat-girl. Cat/human relationships are built on conditional love. Dog/human relationships are based on unconditional love.
I’ve had a few jokers in my life. I’m without a dog at the moment and it’s painful not having one. I can’t until I have my own apartment so it hurts because dogs to me are the ultimate friend. They say that once you have had a dog, you are never complete again without one.
Nothing like a pup jumping around without reason, falling over its own feet and looking at you with total mischief in their eyes. Brilliant memories come running to my mind of our 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. “Look, there’s a dog with human legs sticking from under it!”
Wolf was the “once in your lifetime kind of dog” and he truly was one of a kind. His mum was a Doberman, his dad a Malamute. We were looking forward to seeing what this little wolf-like pup would grow into, and see for yourself in the picture… many a time people came over asking me what kind of dog he was because he was stunning… tall, talkative, showman, always happy and always ready to play. Or fool you. Whichever, he made one hell of a dog and I will miss him until my dying day.
Wolf, who started life with a different name, but soon became Wolf since his built, height and looks resembled a wolf. Choice easily made so. Memories… Wolf standing behind me as a pup, trying his howling and barking and making me jump up of fright because I had no idea he was standing behind me. Wolf waking me up and Wolf walking me instead of me walking Wolf. The daily walks, him turning his head to see if I was still following him. Our walks to the horse stables down the road and his looks and 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. Me flying 875 kilometers to be with him because he wouldn’t eat properly after I moved.
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. Still.
I don’t usually watch films about dogs but I couldn’t resist watching Marley and Me, even though 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 the film showed 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?” It’s hard to explain to people who never had a dog, but they are truly a part of your family. They have a special place in your heart because of their unconditional love and friendship for you, 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 looking out for me.
Last year my mum added Ziggy to the family, and he captured my heart from the first glance at his cheeky eyes. He moved in with my mum after his owners moved into a retirement home, and he was left behind. Ziggy is a ‘genetic accident’ just like Wolf was so Mr. Ziggy Stardust is a Cavoodle, a cross-breed between a Cavalier King and a Poodle, hence “Cav-oodle.”
He thinks I can’t find my own way to the bathroom, or to the kitchen thinking he will get something from the fridge, so he follows me around like I’m about to forget about him. I am not and I will never forget about him, because he’s so funny and so 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. Blessed be the ones who believe cookies and cats are a godsend.
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.
Pets fill a hole in our hearts we never even knew existed. 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. Quiet, loving, unconditional companionship.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2012. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.