Man’s best friend.

Now while I don’t necessarily agree with the man part, the rest of it is true.

I grew up around cats and dogs, I had a dog when I was younger and a lot of my family members had dogs and cats galore. I told my partner when we moved in together we would one day be getting a dog. Fortunately for me he agreed and after a couple years living together we decided to start looking at local rescue centres.

After a few weeks I quickly fell in love with a dog I’d seen on the local Blue Cross website, he’d lived a rough life and had never had a home, but he was so full of life and such a handsome and happy looking chap I showed him to my partner and we booked in a meeting. The meeting went pretty well, we were introduced to him outside, played with him for a bit and watched him run around like an absolute loon with the other dogs. I was so happy and all I could think about was taking him home and giving him the best life possible.

We went into the office to talk to his trainer about the little history they had on him, his behaviours and what he would need from us as his potential new family. It wasn’t a simple case of take him home and love him and that’s it, he was an adult dog, but he’d never lived inside. He would require full time training and attention for several months and obviously there was no guarantee that it would all work. This did raise a big flag for my partner as we both worked full time and he didn’t think we could promise that sort of help right now. I was doing my best to ignore that nagging feeling as I just so wanted to care for him. They brought him into the office and it became clear very quickly just how much help he was going to need. He jumped up on the desk and walked across the keyboard, almost knocking the monitor over, apparently he had done this a few times before but the monitor was old and study so ok so far. He tried to eat EVERYTHING. He had no idea how to interact with anything indoors because he’d never had to. We gave him a few treats and laughed with the trainer at all the things she had to stop him climbing on or trying to eat. She once again impressed upon us how serious a job it was going to be for whoever rehomed him and we said we’d go home and have a proper think about it before deciding what to do.

I was silent the whole drive home, I had a pit in my stomach and I still remember how terrible I felt. I had a lump in my throat and was trying not to cry, I felt ridiculous as we’d only known about him for two weeks and only just met him that day but I’d convinced myself he was going to be ours. I knew no matter how badly I wanted that to be the case there was no way I could convince my other half that we’d be up to the extensive training that he needed and we certainly couldn’t afford to bring anyone else in to do it. All my hopes and dreams about bringing him home, taking him out for walks, meeting the family dogs.. they were crashing down around me. I knew in my heart that we could not provide him with the care and attention and space that he needed, but it still hurt.

When we got home I took myself upstairs, quietly shut the bedroom door and cried. Maybe this sounds silly to you but I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit it. I stayed in the bedroom feeling sorry for myself and having a cry off and on for a while and then I typed out a message on WhatsApp to my partner, agreeing with his concerns and confirming that as much as we might want to be, we were not the right family for him, and couldn’t give him what he needed. He came and gave me a cuddle, and a little later on I wrote an email to the trainer confirming our decision and the reasoning behind it.

So for the next few weeks I would occasionally look at the local rescue centres online but I was still feeling down so didn’t do anything other than browse.

One afternoon I was round my Nan’s for a cuppa and a catch up and one of my uncle’s arrived. We were all just chatting back and forth, tea and biscuits flowing, and he said he’d heard I was getting a dog and asked if we’d gotten one yet. I told him sadly no but we were looking at rescue centres. WELL.

He says, do you want a puppy? My friend recently bought a puppy for his family but the baby is allergic so they are looking for someone to take him, they don’t want any money they just want him to go to a good home. He showed me a picture of the cutest black and white spaniel and I said I was happy for him to pass my number on to his friend. We text back and forth a few times him just giving me info on the dog, how old he is, the breed, where he got him from and after a few days we arranged for me and my partner to go visit, meet the puppy and maybe go for a walk.

It turned out he was a Springer Spaniel X Cavalier King Charles, he was about 8 months old, and he was just so little and cute and full of energy. When we’d been looking at dogs we’d always said we’d go for a medium sized dog, the other half was used to bigger dogs and didn’t want a small one, so when we saw him there was a mention of this, but we figured he’s still a puppy and due to the Springer side of him he’ll probably get a bit bigger. We went on a little walk around the block, had a chat back at the house, and agreed we’d all have a think for a few days and see how we feel.

Myself and the owner texted back and forth a bit, I talked about it with my other half and he was kind of up in the air about it. I don’t think it was the kind of dog he’d had in mind and as always he was worried about money. It was my 30th birthday around that time and I told the owner we wouldn’t be able to do anything until after we’d returned from our holiday (I was taken to Rome for a week, it was amazing!!).

When I got back they asked if we’d be ok if they dropped him round the next weekend, and instead of questioning it as no formal decisions had been made I was a little naughty and said yes. I told my totally understanding and wonderfully calm partner and he assumed I meant they were dropping him round for a weekend or something to see how we got on until I said well.. actually they are bringing him and all of his stuff for us to take him. He was not entirely understanding or wonderfully calm, he was (rightly so) pretty peeved at me.

The first week we had him I was home alone as a prior dog sitting arrangement had been booked in with the in-laws for their holiday, which I had obviously forgotten about in my excitement. He cried during the first few nights, he was really mouthy, constantly nipping at me and after about five days of no sleep, no human interaction or support I started crying and thought to myself – what if I’ve made a terrible mistake here.

Don’t worry though, I absolutely did not! Charlie is five years old and we’ve had him for just over four years now, and although it was really hard those first few weeks I have zero regrets.

He spends most of his time following me around, curling on my lap, napping the day away, trying to give me kisses (unfortunately for me sometimes he does in fact land one on my face!), demanding my attention and showing me his love. He is a hyperactive little maniac but I love him.

Due to my health issues (both mental and physical), as much as I might want to I can’t commit to taking Charlie out for his much needed walks every day. One of my friends had recently started a dog walking/pet sitting service and had taken Charlie out to get some nice pictures for their site, and though he’d barked A LOT at their two labs when they picked him up, they sent me a bunch of videos and pictures of them all playing together in the fields.

This was a pretty big deal for us and I did get quite emotional as Charlie has always been a bit anxious around most other dogs, he’d bark pretty much non stop and other owners assumed he was being aggressive though he never bared his teeth or actually did anything other than bark. I had at this point in time given up on him having lots of doggy friends and being able to walk off lead regularly unless we were absolutely sure we were alone.

He now goes out three times a week with them and he has come on such a long way so quickly it’s been amazing for me to see. He knows when they are due to pick him up, he’s always excited to see them and he is much better around other dogs now too.

I am so grateful that this person came into my life, with their awesome dogs Bella and Eddie, and helped me and Charlie the way they have. They have helped countless other dogs and are always so busy because people just love them, they make a great human/doggo team.

Sadly one of their beautiful labs Bella has just passed away, of course my friend is heartbroken, as is her furry best friend Eddie. I was so sad to hear the news, she was such a wonderful dog and it was awful seeing how devastated they all were, so I decided I wanted to do something nice to help celebrate Bella and Eddie and the impact they’ve had on so many people and dogs.

I want to get a portrait of the two dogs together for my friend, and have started a gofundme to raise the money. I’ve never used it before and I hope it goes well but understand it’s been a tough year on everyone and it’s also nearly Christmas! It’s being done by a very talented local artist and I can’t wait to give it to them. If you feel like donating, anything at all, big or small it would be hugely appreciated and the link is below.

Fundraiser by Jen K : Tribute to Bella (gofundme.com)

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