Growing up, my dogs were my best friends, the closest thing I had to siblings. You see, I’m an only child and finding entertainment minus brothers and sisters proved a little tricky at times. I wasn’t really one for imaginary friends, just imaginary scenarios which I would theatrically act out with my dogs. I would sit for hours talking to them in the garden, generously sharing a box of smarties and pretending they were my noble steeds who would take me wherever I pleased. My dogs played such an integral part in me growing up, in thinking back, they were what made my childhood.
This week, I lost my beautiful black Labrador. He was slightly neurotic to say the least, he would spend the entire day whining to go out the front door only to quickly rush back in through the back door and start the whole saga again. He would follow me to school, which was just on the next street, and create complete havoc at the church by running around the brothers and to my absolute dismay desecrating the statue of Mother Mary. He would sit with the family every evening and talk, he may not have been very good with his words, or any words for that matter, but that never stopped him from adding his two cents. More than anything else, he had so much charm and affection that anyone he met was instantly captivated by him.
I suddenly feel this overwhelming emptiness. There’s no one to play mind games with me at the door and the house has this ever present uncomfortable silence. My dogs are family to me, they don’t ask for much but love and the occasional sprinkle of biltong powder on their chunks. I can think of few humans who have that ability to love unconditionally, who have the ability to make you feel like you’ve accomplished the greatest feat just by being. Dogs have this uncanny trait to make you feel important, pure, rare and loved. They have this ability to make you feel unbelievably extraordinary.