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After Mike, we said we would never buy a dog from a breeder again.

We’d been burnt badly.

Mike was our first dog, and he was so ill right from day one.

How he had even made it to 11 weeks old when we picked him up, god only knows!

Once we drove away from the breeder, they didn’t want to know us any more. They seemed genuine at the time, paper work all in line, loving family taking care of the pups. And who knows, they may have been, it may have been just pure bad luck that he was ill rather than foul play (puppy farm cover up) from the breeders. Either way, we decided we wouldn’t buy from a breeder ever again. You just don’t know what you’re getting. We’d rescue in future.

But that would be after Mike, it was too hard looking after him sometimes – let alone adding another one into the mix. After about two years, we had got ourselves into quite a good rhythm with managing his megaoesophagus. We knew he wouldn’t be around anywhere near as long as a typical dog (the vet told us he wouldn’t make it past six months), and we also knew it would be super hard when the time came to say goodbye. Having a second dog, though wouldn’t stop all the pain, would perhaps at least help us to deal with the loss better. So we toyed with the idea of starting to look for another little bundle of joy to bring into our lives.

Gradually, or maybe not so gradually, Mike got worse and looking after him became more strained again. We never got around to getting that second pup.

Then, when we lost Mike, we lost ourselves.

I can’t stress enough how much of every single day revolved around him, his needs, his life.

So when he left us, we didn’t know what to do with all this empty time.

We cried. Talked about him. Sat in silence. Walked aimlessly. Didn’t move. Didn’t eat. Slept, a lot.

The pain was just so bad that neither of us wanted another dog ever again. There was no way we could open up to that sort of torturous pain again. Why would we ever think of doing that to ourselves?

The weeks went on. The house stayed quiet. Lifeless. For a tiny guy he left a massive hole.

We soon began to realise that we needed another dog. Though Mike was never really a dog. Not with his condition. We’d never actually felt like we had a dog, he was our child that needed constant care and attention. He couldn’t do much of the same things that a healthy dog could do, he couldn’t even drink water from a bowl. He wasn’t a dog. But it was a dog that we now needed nonetheless.

I started trawling the dog rescue centres, the big ones and small ones, trying to find our new perfect companion. There were a couple of contenders that we wanted to find out more about, but every time I contacted the centres – the pup would already be gone.

I joined the lists that I could, and continually refreshed the pages of the ones that didn’t keep a list, but it was the same everywhere. Every dog for us – even if they had just appeared on the page – had already gone.

Each time I would imagine the happy new life we would have with this dog pictured in front of me, to be told time and time again it wasn’t going to happen. It was heart wrenching. I then got an email from one of the big ones to say that due to the unprecedented demand for rescue dogs during lockdown, it would be unlikely that we would get anything for a long time.

My heart fell.

The in-laws had decided it was time for a second pup of their own. Just before we lost Mike, they had contacted the breeder of their current dog to find out if they were planning on any more pups at any point. “Funny, you should ask…we THINK Coco might be pregnant now. We’re not sure, but we’ll let you know.”

A couple of weeks later and it was confirmed, Coco was with puppy.

They were born on the 2nd July. Four weeks later the in-laws told us they were going to visit the puppies and asked if we wanted to go with them. We said we would but not with the intention of buying one, simply to cheer ourselves up with  playful pups.

There were five of the cute little darlings to snuggle up with, but at four weeks they were little more than furry splodges so there wasn’t much playing. Not that that mattered. Puppy cuddles are just as nice.

Of course, we fell in love with one of the splodges. We had a quick confab between us. We’d decided to never buy a puppy again. We desperately needed a new love in our life. We weren’t getting anywhere with the rescue centres. But we knew this breeder was honest and the mum and dad produced lovely puppies – we only had to look at the in-laws current dog to know that.

We weren’t 100% sure it was the right thing to do but we wanted to say yes and then no if it wasn’t right, rather than saying no then yes and being told he was already reserved by someone else. So we put a deposit on him.

We were conflicted. Would Mike be disappointed in us? Would he be sad with us for replacing him so soon? Would he think we didn’t love him anymore? 

A guiding light was telling us we would be getting this little puppy even if Mike was still here anyway, and that made us feel so much better. 

It turned out, the pups were a miracle (accident) themselves. The breeder told us she hadn’t let Coco have any more puppies after her first litter because she hadn’t handled it very well. She was going to get her spayed but hadn’t got around to it as life got in the way. Coco was on heat. The grandkids were staying. A door was carelessly left open and Ozzy, the doggy dad, got to her.

Et voila – puppies!

They would have still gone to look at them, which means we would have still gone to look at them because who wouldn’t want to go and play with puppies! We would have fallen in love with him then too. He would have been ours for sure. This puppy was meant to be with us. Everything fitted in too nicely to not be fate’s interference.

We didn’t need to feel guilty. After all, it was because of Mike, because of the love he gave us, the love we gave him and our missing him that we needed another fluff ball to look after. We weren’t replacing him, we were doing it for him.

Mike would have absolutely loved to have another dog in the house. He loved dogs. He loved life. And this little dog is full of life. They would have got on so well creating havoc in their wake!

We went for another visit at six weeks. That’s when we knew we had made the right choice. Full of beans and character.

We brought Bert home on the 4th Sept along with his sister Yumi who would be staying with us for a week while the in-laws were away.

What a manic whirlwind of a week that was with two pups to run around after. 

It’s been three days (as I write this) that we’ve had him alone, and he is so much calmer now. Yumi is the cutest little tornado, but Bert will now be able to develop into his own pupness. It’s funny to think of what he’ll become.

Having Bert is nothing like what it was like to have Mike. Bert is out first real dog dog that we’ll get to do dog things with. Puppy classes, give him treats, feed him from a bowl on the floor, take him in the car, not worry about how much he plays, or constantly watch for what he’s eating (though that is a hard habit to break – then again we have had to pull more than one slug out of Bert’s mouth – so he’s not completely off the hook with that), other people can look after him easily because he’s a normal dog – the list goes on. We’d give up our new found freedom to have Mike back in a heartbeat, but we know that will never happen. So we’re looking forward to our bright future with our ray of sunshine, Bertie. 

Welcome to the family Bert.

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