16 YEARS LATER: A LETTER TO MY DOG

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Freckles.

This weekend, you turned 16. I still can't quite believe that you've been in my life for so long, and I don't think I'll ever quite get over how lucky I am to have you.

When we first discussed getting a dog, I was scared. The only dog I'd met was my Aunties', and while I was fond of him, he scared me and I thought all dogs would be like that, so I didn't want a puppy. Writing that now physically hurts, I can't imagine not wanting a puppy, especially after all the joy you've brought us, but I was only little and my pony was the most important thing in my life and I just couldn't imagine getting another pet.

Then we went to visit your litter for the first time, and we fell in love with you. From day 1 you were and still are the most perfect, wonderful, gorgeous little dog. In 16 years you've never put a paw wrong (aside from eating my toy horse when you were really small and that time you chewed a hole in the new carpet when we moved house but we'll forget those) and from the minute you came home you did your absolute best to please us from the word go.

You were so small when we brought you home that you could sit in the palm of my hand - and I was 9! I remember the first night we put you to bed with a hot water bottle and a ticking clock that sounded like your Mum's heartbeat and you cried and it broke my heart, I wanted to go downstairs to you but I wasn't allowed because Mum said you had to learn to be on your own. She was right of course (as bloody usual) but after three nights you slept through the night and you were fine.

I loved you so much so quickly - I remember teaching you to jump fences and exploring in the woods together. You used to chase the pigeons and once you actually caught one. I also remember when you were still only about 2 months old I put you in my dolls pram and wheeled you around and you fell asleep. I also took you too visit George (my pony) and you sat on his back and rode him round the field with me.

I think it was only after George died when I was 12 that we became inseparable though. Before that I remember loving you to bits but George was always my number one - after all I'd had him in my life since I was 2, but when he died you were there for me like nobody else. I was a mess and you didn't leave my side, you knew just what I needed and after that we were partners in crime, best friends and completely inseparable.

I don't know where I would be without you. You're my favourite thing in the world, I never knew it was possible to love anyone or anything like I love you. You've been there for me throughout thick and thin, throughout the worst moments of my life, and even now there's not a lot that can't be cured by one of your magic cuddles.

Here's to another 16 years with my best friend by my side, I love you <3

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