On 3rd August 2022 my world changed and sadly not for the better. I said goodnight for the final time to my best friend, my shadow and my companion of 12 years, Nellie.
Nellie and I met in 2010 when I was working for Southampton City Council in the Stray Kennels. She was run over and picked up by a kind lady after witnessing the accident and took her to the local vets. I went out to collect her and was handed this little broken bundle of fluff. The Kennels were really full that weekend and the only place left for her was a crate in a cold room with lots of blankets and a heat pad, so I decided to take her home to foster her.
Her leg was badly broken and so was her pelvis. The vets tried to operate but couldn’t save the leg. It was a case of chopping the leg off or putting her to sleep. My boss at the time decided to save her life as she knew I had already fallen in love with her.
Owners have 7 days to reclaim their dogs in the UK before they become council property. Southampton City Council worked hard to rehome as many dogs as possible after full assessments. Thankfully, for us, no one came forward for Nellie, although even to this day I can’t understand why. She was the sweetest dog you could ever meet. She was great around other dogs although would prefer not to interact with bouncy pups or big dogs. But given her injuries, who could blame her? She was brilliant around children and people. And although she was a Jack Russell she was fantastic with cats and squirrels.
Nellie was the easiest dog I’ve known and always gave me 1000%. She went with the flow and was never far from me. We have been on so many adventures together, she was my nurse when I was sick and always offered a listening ear when I was having a bad day.
In 2021 we welcomed our daughter, Anya, into the world. Introducing Nellie to our new addition was straightforward after much consideration and careful planning. I was looking forward to the next stages of raising a child alongside a dog and was already starting to think about when Anya started to crawl and eventually walk. Nellie was becoming unsteady on her feet so I knew this would unsettle her and she would be very wary around a child who was learning her balance and movement. Children at this stage always look like drunks or Zombies and of course fall over quite a bit.
Saying goodbye to Nellie wasn’t easy, although I knew it never would be. I had always vowed I would bring her home and carrying it out is something I am incredibly grateful for. She hated the vets and I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.
Living in a home without your best friend is awful. It’s empty. It’s eerie. You’re always waiting for her to follow you, to appear beside you because you got the cheese out of the fridge, to feel her by your feet at the bottom of the bed, to be woken in the night to let her out for the toilet, to be greeted at the door when you come home etc. And all of that stops. I completely understand why people get another dog but for me I couldn’t do that. I’d be replacing her, I’d be moving on without her, I’d forget her, I’d compare the two dogs which wouldn’t be fair on anyone. I will admit having a 10 month old baby was my savior. She gave me a reason to continue, someone to focus on. Without her I think I would have crumbled.
People have commented that I can’t be a dog trainer without a dog or I should get a puppy, but actually I’m just not ready. I see the stress in my customers’ faces when they struggle with juggling with their pups and life in general. I have a young child and a business to run. I don’t want to complicate my life any more. Life is too stressful as it is. I don’t feel I can give a pup 100% and I don’t want to stop giving 100% to my daughter.
Anya was sitting on the potty the other day and I just looked at her and imagined a bouncy pup running around her, trying to lick her face, bite her toes and thought how unfair it would be to her to introduce a young pup at this stage. I’m not saying I will never have another dog but right now I’m just not ready, emotionally and mentally. I will start looking for a pup when I feel the time is right for my family and when I want to give 100%. For now I’m just going to enjoy being a mum to my little human and continue my work supporting other families and their dogs.