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All my life I had wanted a dog. I begged and pleaded with my parents for one, even accused them of child abuse for not letting me have one, but they did not budge. When I was twelve, my father was in a bad motorcycle accident, in which he crushed his shoulder and broke his arm in several places. During his recovery, his whole outlook on life changed. He looked upon us, his family, and realised that things he wanted to do should be done sooner rather than later.
The summer after the accident, my parents sat myself and my brother down for a family meeting. Family meetings never meant good news in our house, especially since we rarely had them. They had sombre faces as my dad said they had come to a decision. I looked at my brother wide eyed anticipating bad news. My dad shook his head and grimaced. I was transported to the last family meeting where we were told that an hour before bed, we weren’t allowed to watch TV, that we had to read to ourselves quietly instead. My dad’s frown quickly turned into a smile as he jumped up out of his chair clapping his hands, frightening me and my brother, and screamed, ‘we’re going to Disney!’
My brother, who was only eight at the time, was over the moon, running around the room hysterically. I, however, was in the midst of puberty, and couldn’t grasp why they had told us in that manner. ‘Are you not excited?’ my dad asked as my brothers’ reaction was the polar opposite to mine. ‘I thought someone had died,’ I said before I buried my face and cried. I was an emotional wreck at twelve.
Once the news had settled, and my worst fear imaginable squashed, I wanted to push the boundaries since my dad was in such a good mood and begged once more for a dog. To my surprise my dad said that his friend, Des, who has since passed, had just gotten a puppy from his neighbour, a black and tan Jack Russell. To my delight, my dad went on to tell me that our name was down for his next litter of pups.
I jumped out of my seat and hugged my dad so hard that he had to prize my hands free from his neck. I then hugged my mom. My dad explained that he didn’t know when yet, but that the mother was going to have one more litter before they were to neuter her. I was more excited about the puppy than I was the holiday, not that I didn’t enjoy it, I had a brilliant time riding roller coasters for two weeks, but my mind couldn’t release the image I had in my head of my future forever friend.
On the 5th of July 1998 Max was born. My heart filled with joy when I came upon that information. Over the next few weeks, the family ‘puppy proofed’ the house as best we could. We got all the accoutrements that came with a puppy; a bed, food and water bowls, toys, food, treats, blankets…...’ and so the list continued.
When max was four weeks old, the breeder asked if we wanted to pick out our puppy and invited us to visit the litter. At this stage we didn’t know if we were getting a girl or a boy, we just knew that today was the day for a decision.
I had, almost, never been as happy as I was the day, I met my forever friend. We drove to the farm which was ninety minutes away. I could see nothing but green as we drove on winding, bumpy, dirt roads full of potholes. We met with dads’ friend, Des, God rest his soul, and his family, and of course his dog, my puppy’s brother.
Des had a wonderful lunch ready for us, and as much as I was enjoying the company of his three kids, I just wanted to pick my puppy. After what seemed like hours, Des introduced us to his neighbour, the breeder, who happened to be a vet. He took us to the field adjacent to the house and there they were, eight black stumbling worms in the grass, the mother watching over her babies like a hawk.
I walked over to them and was greatly received by the litter. I sat on the grass beside where they were playing, and they were all over me like flies. There was this one pup with a deep wrinkled head who looked at me, taking me in. I looked back at him, and he started to try to get onto my lap, an impossible task for something so small, and fell backwards onto his back. He got up and shook his body and looked at me again, his head tilted.
I picked up the ball of floppy skin and held him in front of me so I could see him up close. He was black with tan paws and eyebrows. He licked my nose, making me giggle, ‘you are a funny bunny!’ I gently placed him on my lap taking in the gloriousness of eight puppies around me. The ball of wrinkles tried to climb up my top but got so far and stopped looking me up and down. I couldn’t get over how wrinkled his forehead was. This dog is going to have a big head I thought to myself. We gazed into each other’s eyes, and I knew then and there that I was destined to be partnered with this puppy.
On the same visit my family played with all the puppies but this little guy was stuck to me. ‘You have an admirer there,’ the breeder said to me in a real country accent, ‘he’s still available!’ he added. I looked at my father and smiled. He could see ‘the joy’ in my eyes. We nodded to each other, and it was decided. My forever friend had found me.
I will always remember my mother, who wasn’t a big dog lover, holding all eight puppies in her arms at the same time. It was like a postcard picture, but none of us had cameras and it was the era before mobile phones.
Three weeks to the day had passed. I was bursting with excitement as it was the day, the day I was to collect my forever friend. We decided to collect him early, partly because we were all like children on Christmas morning, but also because it was a ninety-minute journey each way and dad had arranged for us to go to Des’s place again.
To my disbelief, the breeder wasn’t home. Des said he rang him thirty minutes before we arrived to say he was called out on a veterinary emergency and wouldn’t be back before dark. There was no way of letting us know until we showed up. I was devastated. I had dreamed of that day for years and now it wasn’t going to happen. We went home emptyhanded and disheartened. I was on hot coals for the rest of the day with excitement, not being able to sit still. Like a child in a car saying, ‘are we there yet?’ I was equally as bad saying, ‘can we go yet?’
We were in the middle of our dinner, shepherd’s pie, which I usually enjoyed but was so anxious my appetite had disappeared, when Des called to let us know the breeder was back. I was up and in the car in seconds, drumming my fingers on the seat in wait of my parents and brother. Twenty minutes later we were on the road again.
It was late when we arrived at the farm, the breeder was visibly tired and wanted a quick transaction. He had the wrinkly headed puppy in a box on his own, whimpering, ready to give to us. He handed me the box. The puppy was twice the size he was three weeks ago. He looked at me, and I at him, and it felt like fireworks were going off in my body. He was mine!
I paid close attention to the breeder as he explained that the mother’s blanket was in the box, his ‘transitional object,’ and how he liked warm ready brek for his breakfast, wet dried food for lunch and puppy food for dinner. I mentally wrote it down as my dad paid him £60, which was at a time before euros.
On the way home I decided on the name Max, to which all my family was in agreeance with. He looked up at me scared, so I held his paw, and he rested his head on my hand. ‘Welcome to the family Max!’ I whispered to him; I had found my forever friend.
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What a heartwarming story. It
What a heartwarming story. It reminded me of when I got my own puppy, but that was back in the 1960s. Very much enjoyed reading and glad you found your forever friend.
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