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  • Writer's pictureWillow Lennard

The Dog Lady - Part One

I have been blessed to be surrounded by beautiful dogs for the last 15 years of my life. They have had such a profound effect on not only me, but my family as well. I owe my life to our dogs, in more ways than one.

I dedicate this post to three of my life's greatest loves - Buttons, Chippy & Tywin.

Childhood & Dogs

My first interaction with a dog was a complete disaster. I was roughly 3/4 years old and was at a friends birthday party. This friend was the eldest of 4 children and the family held her party in their home, with their young Golden Retriever. Whilst playing in their garden, the dog chased me, grabbed me by the hair and dragged me around like a toy. From that moment on I was terrified of dogs.

My Mum was desperate to have a dog of our own, but work and family life prevented that wish for many years. Mum loved Labrador Retrievers since her childhood after growing up with her beloved Bobby. Bobby was a Lab/Collie Cross, he helped raise my Mum & Auntie, was my Grandads best friend and was loved by so many people throughout his life.

It just so happened, that my Auntie Joy & Uncle Mick had a darling Yellow Lab, named Barney. Barney was sweet, gentle, uncommonly calm, used to all of us children charging around and the only dog that didn't cause me to immediately panic. All these years on and I still smile when I think of Barn - he was a good boy.

My First Dog

When I was a young teen, family life changed and we had the right circumstances for a dog, much to my Dad's despair! We were visiting my Grandparents and after the long drive there my Dad decided to have an afternoon nap, soon enough I was asleep too. I hadn't been asleep for long when my phone pinged and there it was — the face of the cutest puppy I had ever seen. Then I heard several phones in the house ping and realised Mum had sent the entire family this photo.

It turns out, whilst Mum & Nan were out, the opportunity for buying a dog from a local & credible Labrador breeder arose. Mum knew Dad wasn't keen on the idea of having the responsibility of a dog, but he was asleep at home, so he couldn't stop her! Mum took it as a sign & bought a dog!

It was simultaneously, the most surprised, excited, nervous & baffled I have ever been.

Dad kicked off — honestly, I thought he was going to kill her, but Buttons little face saved the day.

Baby Buttons

Once Buttons was ready to leave his breeder, Mum & her best friend went to collect him. They did a pitstop at my Grandparents house for refreshment, but Grandad couldn't bring himself to cuddle Buttons, because Grandad knew he would never want to let Buttons go. Mum warned Grandad that she was about to leave, so he only had 5 minutes to cuddle Buttons. From that moment on, Buttons was obsessed with his Grandad.

Buttons arrived home, peed on the corner of our sofa and slept like there was no tomorrow. For the first time, I was interacting with a dog without a care in the world. It was instant, I loved Buttons unconditionally. Apart from giving everything we owned a damn good chew, (including a Blackberry phone and a Tiffany necklace) Buttons was the perfect puppy. Buttons had the same temperament as Barney, so we knew we had been blessed.

After 18 months of loving Buttons, we noticed his behaviour indicated that he could benefit from having a little friend. Mum contacted the same breeder and registered her interest in buying another pup. We had kept in regular contact with the breeders, and got on famously. So when they announced Buttons parents, (Jazzy & Jasper) were expecting again, we were given the pick of the litter! I will always be grateful for that gesture because that is how we got our Chippy.

Chip Diddy Chip

We were in New York City & Buttons was on holiday with my Grandparents. It was the first time we had ever left him and we missed him. We spent the entire trip discussing what name we wanted for his soon-to-be little brother. Both of the boys were Chocolate Labradors, so naturally Mum wanted them to have chocolate themed names. That is how we got our Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Buttons.

A few months after our return to England, we were invited to come to visit the puppies to choose our newest edition. We laid on the floor in the state of the art breeding facility and 11 chocolate puppies ran all over us - I believe they were round about 5 weeks old at the time. This experience is one of my most treasured memories.

We snuggled, played and photographed the entire litter, but Chippy was drawn to Mum & my Sister in particular. Chippy was the first born, male, chunky, excellent hip, eye & hearing score and a clean bill of health. Chippy also had a large white birthmark on his skin, which appeared as a white flash in his fur - it made him unique. Not only was Chippy our number one choice, but he was also the breeders favourite pup. Had they not sold him to us, they most likely would've kept him - instead they kept Chippy's sister, Maple. We loved that both the boys had the same biological parents, it made for some real magical moments seeing how similar and different they were from one another.

Baby Chippy

Once Chippy was ready to come home, he did the same journey that Buttons had done just 18 months previously. Chippy came in, peed on the corner of our sofa (just like his big Brother) and was introduced to Buttons. I cried and laughed when I saw the sheer delight radiating from Buttons. Buttons got a little too excitable and the boys were separated so poor Chippy didn't get squashed! That first night, it was clear the boys had unique personalities, but Chippy was far more anxious. Chippy cried at bedtime, so I lay by his crate & stroked his little paw. Buttons took over from me, curled around his baby brother & snuggled him to sleep. From that moment on, Buttons was Chippy's everything.

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