From as early as I can remember, I dreamt of owning a dog. Every birthday, every Christmas, I’d religiously write ‘dog’ at the top of my list. My Dad and I had it planned out perfectly; it would be an English Sheepdog, with hair that flopped in front of his eyes, and we’d call him Barney. All I needed was my mum to agree.
Eventually; two siblings, one cat and a house move later, she gave in. We were picked up from school one day and taken on a road trip. As we turned into a small farm, they turned around and broke the news to us, we were here to get a puppy. A few weeks later we made the trip again, this time returning with a small but incredibly bouncy bundle of dark brown hair; a chocolate labrador of our own. It had taken me over ten years, but my dog dreams were finally coming true. Even if she wasn’t the Barney I’d once poured over.
‘Muz’, as she was affectionately known, started my love affair with labradors. She grew up as I grew up and the day she passed away, I sobbed at my desk for the friend that I’d lost. By then my parents had another dog, another lab, who howled every evening for the partner he’d lived with since the day he joined our home. It was heartbreaking and in that moment I wondered if I would ever be able to bring a pet into our house knowing the loss that would come at the end of it.
If you’ve ever had a pet, you’ll know the inevitable answer. Of course we would. My (now) husband and I got together in the March, we moved in together by July and in November we made our own trip home with our own ball of bounce; Bella. People thought we were crazy getting a dog so soon but the minute she came in to our lives, we became a family all of our own.
She was there when we decided to buy a house. She was the one I cried at when our renovations flooded the whole place. She’s slept at my feet when Dave’s been away, curled against my lap on the nights I’ve needed comfort, pulled me out the door when I’ve needed a breath of fresh air. In the seven years she’s been in our lives, she’s seen us go from near-strangers living together, to home owners, to husband and wife and finally, to parents. Our first baby, she allowed us to practice our parenting skills on her far before we were ready to actually take the plunge.
Throughout my pregnancy, her mood shifted. She went from lying against me, head on stomach, each night to refusing to come near me. So when we bought our son home from hospital, I was nervous. I worried that our family was about to have to rip in to two and that she wouldn’t cope with the change. And yet I needn’t have. Bella kept me sane during those first few months, she was the one I spoke to as I bounced continuously for the fifth hour trying to get some quiet from the never-ending baby cries. She let me shout at her when my patience was worn so thin, as if she knew that I needed to just get my frustration out of my system and that her own patience would be rewarded with love, walks and above all treats.
As our son has gotten older, so has she and with that has come a slowing down which I simultaneously love and hate. She has become his best friend; his dustbin for hiding meals that he doesn’t want to eat, his exploring companion, his step to get up on to the ‘big’ chairs. He strokes her, laughs at her and loves her in a way which is incredible to watch. As I watch them together I think about how lucky we are to have this family, our family, and how much our pup completes that.
So when we asked to take part in a dream pet campaign to help promote pet insurance from Petplan, I thought I knew exactly what would happen. The idea is to get my son to draw his dream pet and Petplan would help make it a reality. I’ve watched him love his dog every single day of his life, this was going to be easy. We sat down, crayons in hand, ready to create his (our) masterpiece… ‘Shall mummy draw a dog like Bella?’ I asked, ready to get my best brown crayon work on. ‘No mummy! LION!’ and so it began.
It turns out my little dog-loving artist, is more of a colour mad lion fan these days. Between us, we managed to create a masterpiece, with me in charge of the shape and him in charge of the rainbow of colours adorning his new pet’s body. If I was the dog, I’d frankly be a little worried anytime he went near a paint brush as brown was definitely not on the menu. I don’t want to brag but I’m more than a little proud of our hard work. This piece of art is definitely fridge worthy… even in our new (very white) kitchen.
Happy with his creation and shouting ‘ROAR!’ as loudly as only a toddler can, we posted our drawing off to Petplan and waited patiently each day for the postman to see how they’d managed to bring our artistic skills to life. Would they capture the fun that we’d had together? Could they make something that truly turned his crayoned dreams in to reality?
Suffice to say, he loves it. Dragged around by the head, the arm or the tail, his lion gets to take part in all his games. It’s in the bucket of the dumper truck, stuck on the chair arm ready to be rescued by the fire engine and plonked on the potty that’s slowly filling with dust. There are no protest walk-offs from the dog, no clumps of shed hair to clear up, no animals harmed or harassed in the name of toddler fun. Instead we all get a little peace. Me and my dream pet curled on the sofa in the sun. Him and his creating havoc with every second that passes.
It turns out it really is our dream pet; his, mine and even Bella’s. It really does take a pet to make a home.
*This post was made possible by Petplan, however all thoughts are, as ever, all mine.*