Saturday, 21 May 2011
I grew up around dogs, and when I moved out into my own house with my partner we got a dog from the RSPCA, a little mongrel called Dennis, when we had our first baby a year later, Dennis was there as a faithful protector, he was an amazing little dog, and never faulted in any way towards the children, he loved nothing more than to fetch balls, play football and spend hours just simply following them around as they scarped through the woods and fields. He would love them as much or as little as they wanted, put up with them pulling his tail and hiding his balls, he would sit patiently waiting for the dropped food never stealing from their clumsy hands. He taught them love and friendship and respect for other living things, he was a consistent part of their lives, something there before them and there every day with them. Then one day after 10 years of happiness with us he got ill, we took the children to school that morning and then took a trip to the vets, hoping with our hearts in our mouths, that there wouldn't be anything seriously wrong, yes Dennis had got old, he was not a puppy when we got him, he was around 13 years old now, and had always been so full of life, up till this day, when he just looked up at us with woeful eyes and was not at all his usual self. So to the vets we went, with my youngest, telling him all the while that we were just taking Dennis to the vets as he was poorly, but the vet would make him better, little did we know at that point we would not be bringing him home.
Dennis organs were failing, his liver, his heart, and the vet told us the kindest thing would be to put him to sleep, it simply was the hardest thing to have to do, our faithful little dog, our companion, our friend.
So then we had to tell the children where Dennis was. He now had taught them the cycle of life, about death, about sadness.
Having a dog is an amazing thing to give to a child, they teach them that caring and kindness is needed, that there are other things to think about than the latest toy, they give them a friend to talk to, to dress up, to run with, and they give them lasting memories and teach them the hardest lessons in life.
I know that there are horror stories in the papers about dogs mauling children, in their homes or even out in the street. Obviously dogs are animals and as such need to be respected, children need to learn the limits, and the owners need to learn the boundaries, I love dogs, and wouldn't be without one, however I would never fully trust any dog with a child alone, especially not a child who is unfamiliar with the dog. It's simply unfair on the dog and the child to expect them both to be aware of the others needs and emotions.
We now have Jackson, a boxer dog, he is now teaching the children that life carries on, that new memories are to be made, new friendships to be formed and that memories of past will remain. I remember the day we brought Jackson home, we had talked about getting a new puppy, a boxer dog as that was the one breed I had always loved. So I was thrilled to be bringing this cute little bundle of fun home that first day, however my eldest was not as happy, when Dad went to fetch the new puppy, he cried, I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he was upset we all wanted a new dog and thought that meant we had all forgotten Dennis. So with reassurance that we would never forget Dennis, that by giving Jackson a home, we could remember Dennis all the more, that we could teach Jackson some of Dennis old tricks and give him a loving home just as we had done with Dennis brought him round to the idea., and Jackson has brought love and happiness back to the house, brought a new faithful companion for the children, given us a reason to explore our new area when we had to move house, given us a new consistent friend!