Lately I have been working with Petplan Pet Insurance on a campaign to share “My pet story”. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to share someone very special with you all, my Charlie Chops…..
There are people who can change your life forever, people who touch your heart in ways you can’t explain, people you can never forget and who you think of every single day and smile. And for me that someone was Charlie who, although he very much believed that he was human, was infact the greatest dog that ever lived.
Charlie was a boxer and as soon as I clapped eyes on him I knew that he was special. Not only was he utterly adorable but he was intuitive, soft natured and more than a little bit crazy. And we loved him very much.
Lewis was just six months old when Charlie came to live with us and could not remember a life without him. The two of them grew up together, sharing milestones, napping together on the couch, running wild together in the park, waking up together when Charlie had sneaked into his room and curled up at the foot of his bed. Charlie doted on Lewis, and vice versa.
When I fell pregnant with Joseph, Charlie just knew. He would lie beside me, head on my belly, looking up at me with those big brown eyes as though to tell me, I’ve got this. And I knew that he would love the new baby just as much as he did Lewis.
When Joseph died and I returned home from the hospital, empty handed and broken hearted, Charlie was waiting for me at the door. And instead of jumping up at me in his usual playful manner, he merely climbed up onto my lap, lay his head against my chest and allowed me to cry, never once leaving my side.
In the months that followed, as the grief was all consuming, he would lie beside me on the bed, nudging me with his nose, willing me to get up, to get out, encouraging me to face the world again. He would watch me, his head cocked to the side, wagging his tail as I took the first steps towards leaving the house again, towards getting the help I so desperately needed. My biggest fan, my greatest supporter, my very best friend.
When my marriage ended just two years later, it was Charlie who was there for me, jumping up onto the bed the very first night my husband left, reminding me that I wasn’t alone. And he would lie there, flat on his back, his head on the pillow, like the human being he truly believed that he was, and his love and dedication was unfaltering.
When Gaz came along it was hard for Charlie to accept him, more so than it had been for Lewis. Charlie was very wary of this man who had suddenly appeared in our home, threatening his place in my affections, and yet by the time that Gaz moved in just a few months later, Charlie loved him just as much as I did.
There are so many stories which I could tell you about Charlie. The time that he jumped out of the upstairs bedroom window and miraculously survived with just a small graze to his chin. Or the time he leapt from the car window and bounded into the post office to find me.
I could tell you about the day he smashed an entire bottle of olive oil when we weren’t home, stepping in the glass to make a bloody, oily massacre which he trod up every single carpeted step on all three stories of our home. To say that he was accident prone would be an understatement!!
I could tell you about the fact that his tongue was so long it didn’t even fit inside his mouth, how it would hang out in a pool of slobber and how I spent hours cleaning my windows for that very reason. I could tell you how brave he was when he had a cancerous tumour removed aged four and how he had exceeded all of our expectations in bouncing back and recovering so fast.
I could tell you about his love of sticks, the bigger the better, and how he would outright refuse to drop it, even if it was ten times bigger than he, and how we would end up with full sized branches in our back garden every single day. I could tell you that he snored, louder than any dog I’ve ever known, how he loved to swim, how he was never happier than chasing Lewis or plodding along beside me down the canal.
I could tell you how hard it was when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, when his heart began to falter, causing him to have black outs, to have fits, to lose control of his bowels and bladder, the ability to do all of the things he had once loved. I could tell you just how devastated I was to know that my Charlie Chops would not live to be old and grey, that our days together would almost certainly be cut short.
But what I really want to tell you is that he was the most amazing and beautiful dog I have ever known, and I truly believe that he saved me – from loss, from divorce, from myself. He was there for me throughout the best and the worst times of my life and the bond we shared was so precious and unique, and I was grateful for every single day we had together.
When Lewis was seven years old and I was just a few weeks pregnant with Eva, the day we returned from a family holiday to Spain, with Charlie staying at my parents, my beautiful boy passed away. At just seven years old his heart had given in, and as we returned home and I held him for one last time, I told him, during the hardest of goodbyes, that he was the best dog, and the best friend, in all the world.
As we returned home, the house so much quieter now, my windows so much cleaner, no dirty footprints or shedded dog hair, I wished that I had been able to save him in the same way he had saved me.
And anyone who tells me that he was just a dog, just a pet, they’re wrong. He was so much more than that. He was my best friend for seven long years, my closest confidante, keeper of secrets, my shoulder to cry on, a reason to get out of bed each day and face the world long after Lewis had started school and during the weekends he stayed with his Dad.
He made me laugh, made me cry, made me feel safe, and he made the darkest times of my life a little less lonely. He was my family, Lewis’s family, and our lives are a little less full without him.
Dogs like Charlie come around just once in a lifetime and, although our time together was cut short, I am so very grateful that for seven long years, he was mine.
*** This is a collaborative post with Petplan Pet Insurance. All words and opinions are my own. ***