You know those quotes about someone walking into your life and you are never the same again….Well that is exactly what happened to me over seven years ago. When my dog entered my world.
In the summer of 2010 I left Essex where I had been living with Lewis and working my first teaching job. I moved back home to Belfast, to be with my mum. She was going through a pretty rubbish time with her (now Ex thankfully) husband at the time and although she didn’t really say much, I had a sixth sense that I needed to be at home (we call each other witches as I am pretty sure we can read each others minds). So I moved in with her and him. It was plain rotten and that is putting it very politely. I could go on about it for a few more lines using quite a few explicit words- but truth be told- he does not deserve the effort it would take to type. All I will say is seven years later and my mum has her inner light switched back on, she is happy and safe and I could not be more proud of her. That Christmas (at this stage we were all still living under the same roof) my mum and my new fiancé (hehe Lewis had finally put a ring on it in the November!) agreed to get me a puppy that I had longed for. I will say at this point that when Lewis and I are living in mainland Spain/Portugal with our acre of land surrounding our farmhouse (I was always encouraged to DREAM BIG ya know), we will have more than one dog- and whilst puppies are beautiful and I would never swap Buddy for a second- I will say- all our other dogs will one hundred percent be rescue dogs…. Sorry digressing again…
I had to choose a small breed that would not get in the way (remember we were living with the Psycho) so I found a Teacup Yorkie for sale and we could pick him up on Boxing Day. And whilst we thought he would be a tiny thing when he reached adulthood, I can report there is nothing teacup about Buddy inside or out. If anything, he is like a big Alsatian on the inside- always eager to run and play (depending on weather conditions- if it is raining you can forget it mate) and despite him turning eight this coming November, strangers often mistake him for a young puppy due to his playful nature and childlike friendliness.
That first day was so unbelievably surreal and will be etched in my mind forever. Collecting him and knowing he was mine. After we picked up Buddy, we then headed to the cinema. Yes that’s right- the cinema. We popped him right into my mums handbag and there he stayed snuggled. It really was love at first sight. A love after nearly eight years that has not dimmed in the slightest.
Buddy’s first two months with us were some of the best and hardest times of my life. Thankfully in February we were able to leave where we were and I know that if I hadn’t have had Buddy… I am not sure if I would have coped. And when I write this I know it is the truth for so many people who have an animal that they see as a valued family member. I know countless people who have gone through heartache in their lives such as break ups, death, miscarriages, illness and so many of them actually talk about the support and love from their dog or cat.
It was like Buddy knew I needed him- although he was small and young- he saved me. He kept my mum and I going with a smile on our faces when there wasn’t much happiness around us. So when I hear someone say – It’s just a dog, it takes all my inner strength not to karate high kick them into next week. Buddy was never just a dog- he is never just a dog. He is NOT just a dog. He is so MUCH more than just a dog.
Mum Guilt is a real thing and I get lots over the dog that made me a mama. When you are leaving the house all you have to do is glance Buddy’s way and one heartbroken look from him (and has that boy mastered the art of looking pathetically sad) is enough to ruin your night (all my parents can vouch for this). But what I would give sometimes to be leaving Buddy for an evening out….as you know we live in the Middle East and Buddy doesn’t live with us. Yes we could have him out here living in our third floor apartment and 45 degrees heat and we have looked at it. But I had to ask myself the serious questions of why would I be moving Buddy out here- for a better life for him? Because he needs my love and is miserable without it? And the reality is- If I moved Buddy here to be with us, it would be entirely for me. Whilst I don’t doubt Buddy misses me and gets depressed each time we leave (when it’s time for us to pack, we have to send Buddy to my dads- he cannot see the suitcases laid out. Or else it’s one sad pup), he is okay without me. More than okay. My parents love him (almost) as much as I do. Normally Buddy stays with my mum Monday- Thursday and at my dad and stepmum’s Thursday-Monday. They shower him with love- like literally 24/7. I am certain without them I would be back in the UK despite the lack of teaching jobs, despite not being able to save- without them I would be back to collect Buddy and deal with it. But because of the way they love Buddy, I am able to go to sleep knowing that he is so loved. I am not there with him but he still feels such love. And for that I am eternally grateful to my parents. For loving my baby the way they do.
And despite having lived away from him on a daily basis for years now- each time I go home- he becomes my shadow again. Every single time, I have this moment before I see him that he is going to have forgotten me or he won’t want to cuddle me because he feels abandoned. But within a second of him seeing me and me seeing him- it’s like we have never spent a day apart. And I can’t wait for him to live out his retirement days with us under the same roof each night. We have made the choice to be here in the Middle East to better our family’s life and that includes Buddy. When he is basking in the evening sun on the front porch of our house (remember from earlier- the Spanish farmhouse one with all the land and the rescue dogs?) I am sure he will know why we made the choices we have.
When I was pregnant, quite a few people took the opportunity to tell me that it would be SO much different when Noah was born- that my feelings about Buddy would change dramatically. Noah was born in December 2015 and over two years later- I couldn’t love Buddy more. As a primary school teacher I have seen what a fear of animals, especially dogs, can do to children and it makes me so sad and angry. Yes I was cautious of leaving Noah in the room at the beginning with Buddy because he was obviously a baby who couldn’t communicate and I couldn’t be certain (although I did predict Buddy would accept a human brother/sister like a boss) how he would take to him. But despite Noah’s overexcited screams in Buddy’s face, his constant heavy handling and following him every single minute they’re together, Buddy is as soft with him today as he was with him when he was firstborn. And that’s the thing- despite living thousands of miles away from Buddy- I miss him as much as I miss human members of my family. Because in my eyes, Buddy has given me the kind of unconditional love that some people don’t ever get to experience.
And although at times it is so hard to be away from him, I know I am lucky to miss Buddy. Because it just shows me how much love and value he brings to my life.
So thank you Buddy- you are the dog who got himself the name after ‘Buddy the Elf ‘ and it couldn’t be more apt. Just like that childlike grown elf, you are incapable of seeing bad in anyone. You have a love for fun and affection and the world could do with plenty more Buddy’s.