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Grief and Carrying On...

Losing Your Best Friend

You were awesome...

Our dog died... there, I've said it.

It's been a struggle this last month and to be honest I'm surprised it's only been a month. I keep expecting to look at the calendar and discover that, much like an old cartoon or film, the months have just flown past as if by magic, but they haven't. Poppy died late afternoon on Thursday, December 14, 2017; she was just six years old.

I've always had dogs and would quite happily fill my home with one of each breed. I love all dogs and don't discriminate; my husband David, however, was very much a cat person. Now, as much as I love our cats Bella and Cassie, they, in all honesty, could not care less if we were still alive as long as someone kept their bowls full of food. Dogs are different; they love in a very human way or they do a very good impression of doing so. When I met David I decided I wanted a dog and proceeded to badger the living daylights out of him until he decided his ears had been bleeding for long enough and he waved his white flag.

Poppy came into our lives in November 2011 and one of the first things we did was take her to a firework party, and it did her the world of good; she became a confident dog who wasn't fazed by anything, she loved people and they loved her. A friend named her the happiest dog in the whole world and they were right.

Now, it would be easy for me to remember all the good stuff and forget the moments of complete and utter defiance and disobedience. For instance, chewing my brand new purse. Chewing what felt like every left shoe of mine (No idea why left, but it was always the left shoe; maybe it tasted nicer), pooing at the side of my bed so that I stood in it the next morning (I can still remember the feel of it on my bare foot!). All of those things were actually our mistakes, though, not hers; she just wanted to please us.

So how did she get ill? Well, she had a bit of a cough that came and went. In all honesty, she was very good at making you feel sorry for her and would feign illness for food, mainly cheese. This went on for about 2 months but very sporadically, so much so that it didn't even register as being connected. My husband works at a vets, he's the IT guy, and at the Christmas party, Poppy's grandparents (I know, I know) who were babysitting her (yup, I am aware she's a dog, not a baby) let her out of the car to come greet us. As we left, one of the veterinary nurses said she sounded like she had a collapsed trachea; cue horror and feeling ill on our part. We booked her in to see Tom the vet at Abbey House Veterinary hospital in Morley Leeds straight away, feeling like our world was caving in.

Come appointment, day Poppy dragged us into the vets and was beyond excited to see everybody, just the same as she always was. Tom took her temperature (she didn't like that!) and then got his stethoscope but couldn't hear her heart, and at that moment I knew this was serious. We got into the car and I burst into tears because I just knew. David was more optimistic, but then he'd never had a dog before; he didn't know how it felt to lose one. Poppy was quickly booked in for an x-ray during which a lump was discovered and so a biopsy was taken. Fast forward a few days: she had a Thymoma.

Now, a Thymoma is a growth on the Thymus gland and lots of Labradors and German Shepherds get them. They can be removed and the prognosis is normally not bad. Poppy's was too invasive and was on her trachea and was impossible to remove. David rang from work to give me the news and I was just in shock, I didn't believe him, it made no sense. I don't think I've ever cried as much because quite honestly, I expected her home. I thought it would be fine but it wasn't. Despite her outward appearance she was really very poorly.

Abbey House Vets were amazing and not just because David works there, but because they care. We couldn't have had better treatment if we'd tried; I will never be able to thank them enough.

With hindsight, we realised she'd slowed down slightly, we thought she was bored and kept saying we'd get her a friend eventually, soon, at some point...

We went to see her at the crematorium and she looked so peaceful. I stroked her silky ears one last time and sobbed. Saying goodbye to Poppy is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Cut to a few days later with both of us feeling like life is way too short and in a haze of tears trying to block out the world, I found myself scrolling through Facebook. Boom, I saw a dog that looked just like Poppy and he was the dad to some amazing puppies that were for sale just up the road. Fate or stupidity? We'll find out I guess.

Two we decided was the magic number, both girls called Ruby and Saffron, and they're beautiful, but much like older parents, both of us have forgotten how much work is entailed with raising good puppies. Make no bones about it, though, we're up for the challenge.

We pick them up soon and can't wait, but Poppy will be forever in our hearts and be a big sister to two awesome dogs.

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