I’ve got a new puppy.
My beloved Polly was put to sleep a few days after my birthday in October 2013, at the age of 14. Needless to say, I’ve had better birthday weeks. Polly was a brilliant dog. We got her the summer holidays before I started high school, so she saw me through the tumultuous teenage years, my emo stage in college, going to and then leaving university, finally getting my degree, and my first proper job. When anybody, animal or human or teddy bear, accompanies you through so many life-changing events, watching them go is heartbreaking. But when she did go, I knew immediately that I wanted another dog.
Before Polly, there was Lucy, the cocker spaniel. Lucy was bought in South Africa when my parents lived out there in the 80s. She never fully warmed to me, but I loved her, as I’m sure this picture demonstrates!
Having a new dog is nothing to do with replacing the one that passed, as that can never happen. But once dog people, always dog people. Your home feels empty and quiet without a four-legged companion.
When Polly passed my parents were adamant we weren’t having another one. Too much heartbreak, too much stress. But I’d heard this one before. They lasted two weeks after Lucy: my mom was determined she didn’t want a springer spaniel but when we went to see some puppies, well, how could you resist? I knew the same would happen this time. I bided my time and waited until my dad was drunk at a neighbour’s party. We got onto the subject of dogs and said that, yes, the end is devastating. But think of the years and years of enjoyment you get out of a dog before their last days. Even when they’re old and slow, they make life just that little bit more special. They can sense when you’re sad and need a chin on your knee. They join in with birthdays and Christmases. They get you out of the house even when it’s wet and rainy and you’d rather stay under the covers. Dogs are a joy to be around; they bring a house to life.
So my dad relented. About a week passed before I emailed a lady about some springer spaniel puppies. She phoned back and spoke to my mom for about an hour. We made arrangements to see the puppies the following morning.
After we had picked this little cutie out, we had to wait two weeks until January 14th, until she was 8 weeks and old enough to come home.
We called her Willow, and she turns three months old on the 19th. She’s already the star of the family.
You forget what it’s like to have a puppy – especially a Springer Spaniel puppy! A whirling dervish is an understatement. She is mental. But lovely. The house looks like a bomb has hit it most of the time, and we’ve had to get a room divider that is basically a large baby gate. But despite all the crying in the middle of the night to be let out, all the biting, all the underwear with little holes in them, and all the lost slippers, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Once a dog person, always a dog person.
Blatant plug: I’ve set up an Instagram just for this little monster, @WillowSpringer