We have owned a variety of animals over the years and I am very much a dog lover. We have two dogs in our household. Tessa, a soppy but very bouncy boxer who was six in February and Humphrey, my little King Charles Spaniel who will be six in September. We have had both from puppies. Both are unique. Tessa has never realised that she is much bigger and heavier than Humphrey and is very submissive. Therefore, Humphrey is boss! Tessa thinks that she is a lap dog, always wanting to sit on us and be with us. She loves all people, worries about everything and is, like most boxers, still very puppy like. Humphrey is his own man. He has such a big ego and I am sure that he thinks that he is much bigger than he actually is! He picks and chooses how sociable he is feeling, can sulk for longer than me and would eat more than the average horse if we allowed him to! They are very pampered and much loved, adored pets. Today Humphrey spent the afternoon at the dog parlour where he received a bath, haircut, scent spray, tooth clean and nail cut. Tessa got a secret treat whilst Humphrey was away and both were happy.
I haven’t always been a dog lover. When I met my hubby he owned a white boxer named Boomer who was only 18 months old. Boomers excitement at meeting me turned to disgust when I tried to take over his half of the bed. My joy at being trampled at 3 in the morning when he tried to claim back his side of the bed was everlasting. Well, it lasted for about six months before he was relegated to a bed in the kitchen. I remember making an effort to look extra pretty for Steve (hubby) one evening early in our relationship. I sat on his couch and realised it was wet. Steve didn’t bat an eyelid on informing me that “oh yes, Boomer got excited and did a wee on it earlier.” He found it more amusing than me by far, and I never wore the jeans again!! It’s fair to say that whilst we had an attachment, Boomer and I tolerated rather than adored each other! Hubby meanwhile, doted on him.
Boomer was a faithful friend none the less and always excellent with the children. So patient and kind. Even after we had to manually remove jelly tots from his ears and glitter from his nose, he still loved to join in with whatever the children were doing! Boomer was healthy and happy until one April Bank holiday Monday, we noticed that he was struggling to walk and was uncomfortable. All night he paced and puffed. I thought that maybe he had hurt a hip. Off to the vets we trundled first thing on the Tuesday morning. Boomer was by now 11 and a half. It didn’t take long for the Vet to discover a huge growth that filled most of his lower end. I had limited options. They could open him up to confirm it was cancerous at which point they wouldn’t wake him up, if it wasn’t cancerous they could try to remove some – but risk him dying through blood loss or heart attack, even if they were able to remove some it would be hard for him to recover due to his age, the major surgery and it would not solve the problem, just prolong it. Boomer was in pain and really, there was only one option. Being hubby’s dog chiefly it really should have been his decision. But, he was unreachable. I had to decide. By now, Boomer had laid down to sleep for the first time in 24 hours – and Boomer would never had usually slept through a Vet visit. Boomer had never really liked the Vet! I made the hardest decision that I had ever had to make and Boomer slipped off to doggy heaven gently in my arms.
I was devastated and the house was so empty. It had all been so sudden. I had never realised how much I did love him! Even if he was old and smelly! I quickly realised that I had missed a big opportunity to fall in love with 4 legs. You never know what you have got until it’s gone springs to mind. We quickly decided that we couldn’t bear the space and emptiness that he had left and decided to get a new dog. I had always liked Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Bella, a tiny example of the breed was duly chosen – boy was she cute. But, she couldn’t fill the gap for hubby. I was suddenly learning how different the world was with a special friend, whilst he was still mourning. So, back out we went. In for a penny in for a pound and suddenly, we had 2 puppies. Bella, and a little scared boxer – Tessa! Life became a round of housetraining, behaviour training (that didn’t work!!), walks, toys, chewed articles and lots and lots of fun!
Sadly, Bella started to have seizures at just four months old. No-one knew why but they got worse and worse month after month. Her balance was not good and she would be totally manic one minute and fitting the next. In desperation, we sought the help of a specialist animal hospital with European Specialist Vets. They diagnosed Cerabella disease (sp) a degenerative brain disease. A five day stay at the specialist hospital cost us £1800 and in total in six months we had spent £3000. Thankfully she was insured! There was nothing we could do for Bella except love her. Deciding when enough was enough was heartbreaking. I would make the decision and then change my mind. With hindsight, the decision perhaps should have been sooner than it was, but I held on, hoping that nature would take that decision for me. It didn’t. When she was 9 months old I just knew one day that she couldn’t go on anymore and she left us that afternoon.
I had known that we had days rather than weeks left with Bella, and when a friend told me about a litter of King Charles puppies near to our home, I decided to get another. I thought that if i had a new puppy to keep busy with, it might make losing Bella easier – how stupid could I have been!! But, ten days before losing Bella, a handsome little chap came to live with us. And so Humphrey’s reign began! From day one he was a confident little boy who did what he wanted when he wanted! Tessa fell in love with him immediately – she had loved Bella but finally she had a friend that she could actually play with. They made such a pair! Tessa who was all worry, legs, and clumsiness, and Humphrey who was small but with sharp teeth and an ability to fit behind the couch to hide! They have grown up together and are best of friends. They are our best friends.
Tessa and Humphrey are spoilt there is no doubt. When we are out Tess always wants to play, meet people and run! The problem with this is that when most people see a boxer charging towards them, foaming at the mouth and showing teeth because she is panting they don’t share the sentiment!! When they do, they are rewarded with slobber! Tessa has no tail but still tries to wag – shaking her whole back end in the process such is her pleasure around her human equivalents. Humphrey who is small, soft and cute is very attractive to people but, is very capable of regally ignoring those who come to say hello! Tessa will say hello and want to play with any other breed of dog. Humphrey on the other hand likes his own type and will happily play with another King Charles but rarely engage with another breed unless it is Tessa. He is very choosy. Humphrey will eat anything and everything, Tessa will eat only what she wants and choses. Our dogs are so very different in every possible way – yet are devoted to each other!
We all have so much fun together. Tessa is all energy but Humphrey prefers a more sedate pace of life. Tessa gets hot very quickly where as Humphrey loves nothing better than to lie in the sunshine. We tromp through woods together and run through fields. We share picnics and ice creams. We all snuggle up at the end of everyday on the couch and are always pleased to see each other. A dog I am sure, has a much greater capacity in most cases, for love and trust than a human.
I have learnt so much from being a dog owner. I have learnt so much about dogs and their needs. I now understand the importance of dog rescues and neutering. It breaks my heart to see dogs in rescue centres, desperately waiting for forever homes. I cannot understand those who abuse animals or those who simply tire of them and pass them on. I educate others around me about the dedication needed to be a dog owner whenever I can. I remind people thinking of becoming dog owners to research the different breeds to ensure that they are a suitable match in temperament, exercise requirements, size and mental stimulation needs. To consider the time they have and can be at home for the dog, rather than just choosing the breed of dog that they think looks nicest. The commitment of owning a dog should never be underestimated but neither should the rewards. If a dog becomes a problem dog, it is usually because the owners that were the problem. My hubby is still surprised to this day at how devoted I now am to our furry friends after my shaky start. I am still surprised! There was a time when I could never have imagined being so happy to be around dogs. Now, I sit browsing through the Many Tears Animal Rescue website trying desperately to convince hubby that we have space for one more!! My hubby had given up all hope of turning me into a dog lover. It just goes to show that Boomer, was infinitely cleverer than him 🙂 !!