Our dog was a cross-breed; cocker spaniel and poodle, chocolate, curly, large paws and a thick moustache. He was lovely. Our step dad brought him home one afternoon, telling us his previous owner had received him as a gift and didn’t want him – he’d been handed to a friend of a friend… When he turned up I was about nine years of age. He came running into our back garden where we were, to sniff around. We stepped towards him but he turned up his lips bearing his canines with a threatening growl. We were definitely not welcome, obviously invading his space.
I’m not sure how he was treated by his old owners but he was scared of anyone who tried to approach him. We were gentle, showed that we were kind, comforted him, changed his name showing him he was ours. He became my companion. I played ball with him, chased him round the garden trying to get it off him, I learnt to juggle – with him running round my feet trying to catch the balls, took him for walks, carried him like a child, and generally messed around having fun. To start with he slept on the a small square landing about two steps down from our bedroom doors but eventually I gave him my old ‘My Little Pony’ cushion that we placed under the stairs alcove which he loved.
When our baby sister was born I was fifteen years old. Mum used to place her in the Moses basket next to the sofa, in the corner. I’d stroke her nose and sing her a song to get her to sleep. Mum tied her baby tag, from the hospital, at the end of the basket – dangling and swinging in the breeze from the back door. She started to worry becoming paranoid that our dog would become jealous of the attention my baby sister was receiving and may attack. She only needed one excuse to get rid of him and that day came fairly quickly.
A few weeks after our sister came home our dog decided to have a little chew on that tag hanging on the end of the basket. Mum freaked! If he could do that to the card, he’d likely attack our sister. A couple of days later, I watched him walk to the car with his cushion, lead and water bowl to be driven away, never to return.
That was one of the many times when I stood strong, holding back my emotions and pretending I wasn’t bothered. I learnt very early on in life that it was far easier for me to shut down and show no emotion at all than provide the satisfaction to others when I was hurting. I wouldn’t have been able to change anything; whatever we said or did was ignored unless it was wrong.