LOVE: Man’s best friend. My best friend.

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Louie as a puppy

Meet Louie. He’s our beloved family dog. He’s an 18-month-old, pure bred boxer and I’m head-over-heels, seeing stars, heart-pounds-every-time-I-see-him in love. He’s an incredibly affectionate and goofy young dog whom my family and I adore. Whenever I think about being away from him for long periods of time, my heart breaks and I constantly need photos and Skype sessions with him to sate my obsessive love for him. Possibly not the healthiest of relationships but I think that this is a feeling that all dog owners and lovers can relate to. They play such an integral role in our families and in our lives that it’s unbearable to think about them not being there – much like it feels to think about losing a human family member. It’s not something that we like to dwell on. Sadly though, as with all things the end must come and I suppose while Louie makes my family and I so inexplicably happy (words cannot possibly express how much we love and adore him), his entrance into our family wasn’t as happy as it could have been.

It has been years since my family and I had been able to have a dog. We lived in a two-level-townhouse and it really didn’t have enough space to be able to comfortably accommodate one. We’ve had a couple of different dogs over the years but we had always adopted them at an slightly older age and because it had been so long since we had had a dog, we decided that 2011 was the year that we would get our first puppy. We found out that family friends of ours were having their first and only litter of schnauzer puppies and there was no question: we were getting one. Not longer after, the puppies were born. We saw them that night and instantly fell in love with all twelve of them. They were so tiny and cute that we were constantly finding excuses to go over and visit them. We helped to bath them, play with them and generally just provide then with as much love and attention as we possibly could. It was a shame that we couldn’t take all twelve home but we found Henry. A completely black puppy save for a white spot on his chest and a white paintbrush tail. He was BEYOND adorable and the ten weeks that we had to wait before taking him home were excruciating.

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Henry as a puppy

Finally the day came and he came home to stay. It was hard for him to be separated from his mother and siblings (he spent his first night crying for his family and so for the first week he snuggled up to my neck and face in my bed so he would sleep) but he eventually got used to us and slept in his own bed. By this stage, my parents had bought a bigger house and we had moved in so there was plenty of space for young Henry to get himself into trouble. Oh and boy did he get into trouble! He ate his bones in the house, ran across the street away from us when the front door was left open, hid under the house and countless other things but it didn’t make us love him any less. He was beautiful in every explanation of the word – good natured, friendly, playful, handsome and loved unconditionally. It was in his nature to be mischievous and curious about everything. It’s heartbreaking to say though that his curiosity and excitement to be friends with everyone was also what got him killed.

Henry was 8-months-old when my sister was talking him for a walk around our local area. He saw another dog across the other side of the street and before my sister could do anything about it, he had slipped his collar and ran across the street to meet the other dog. He just didn’t see the car coming in the other direction and the driver, sadly a family friend of ours, didn’t seem him either. There was the screeching of tires, a yelp and Henry was on the ground not moving. My sister was screaming and running towards him only to see him slowly slip away. I don’t think my sister will ever really recover from the experience. I don’t think any of my family will. I won’t lie. It’s been almost two years and I’m still getting upset thinking about it. Our collective family’s heart broke that night and while we love Louie to no end, there’s forever going to be an emptiness in ours hearts where Henry is concerned. The days and weeks following the accident were the hardest for me. I missed him so much and his absence was palpable in our house. I didn’t talk or laugh or smile for what felt like an eternity but eventually, life got back to normal and I learnt to live with my grief. I know that this might sound extreme to some of you but I can’t explain in words how much I loved Henry. I raised him from a puppy. I spoilt him with treats. I took care of him and he loved me unconditionally. There’s nothing in the world like it.

After a couple of months, my family started thinking about getting another dog. It was possibly the easiest family decision that has ever been made in my family. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that we should get another dog. Our house felt too empty and we wanted the joy that only a dog can bring into a household back in our lives. So I went in search of a breeder and found a breeder of boxers in Tamworth. I got in touch with the breeders who told me that their female boxer had just had pups and that they were ready for new homes. She sent me photos and then there was Louie. We said yes on the Friday night and the arrangements were made to fly him up to us the following Tuesday. We couldn’t have been happier. We still miss Henry terribly but when Louie came into our lives, the pain felt a little less crippling and our house felt a little less empty.

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