Last Saturday my dog, Gus, reached the end of the road. He was fourteen years-old and he had been showing his age for a while but I had just kept hoping that a miracle would happen. Sadly, it didn’t.
I got Gus at a particularly difficult time in my life. I had recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, and the prognosis wasn’t good. My old dog had died while I was in hospital and I assumed that was it, that I would never own another dog; however, my daughter thought differently. They say that parents know their children but children also know their parents and Vicky certainly knows me inside out. ‘You need another dog,’ she told me firmly. ‘Not a pup, but an older dog for company.’
I protested that it wasn’t the right time, that I wasn’t well enough to look after a dog, that I didn’t need the hassle when it took me all my time to look after myself, but Vicky would have none of it. She and Jamie, my lovely son-in-law, whizzed me off to a rehoming centre and insisted that I looked around. I did so reluctantly, determined that I wasn’t going to give in. And then I saw Gus, a nine year-old, black brindle Cairn terrier, and that was it – I knew I had to have him.
Gus settled in immediately. Although he’d had several previous homes, he obviously felt that he belonged to me from the outset. So long as he knew I was there, he was happy. As for me, well, I am in no doubt that Gus helped to save my life. I had to get fit, I had to keep going because Gus depended on me, so slowly but surely I regained both my fitness and my confidence.
Soon Gus and I were going for long walks over the fields together, playing ball in the garden, and snuggling up on the sofa to watch television each evening. The future that had seemed so bleak just months before now looked very different. Maybe my cancer couldn’t be cured but, by heaven, I could still enjoy life! I decided that I would get the most out of each and every day whether it was going for a walk, playing with my grandchildren or writing. I had such a lot to be thankful for, such a lot to look forwards to as well.
So will I get another dog at some point? I said I wouldn’t but in my heart I know that I will. I don’t think I’ll have a choice actually seeing as Vicky is already checking the websites of several local rehoming centres!