I got Dolly when I was sixteen.
I had been through a rough year.
I had experienced my first bout of depression and although it was left undiagnosed at this time, a counselor suggested a dog to my parents.
Dolly was ten months old when I got her. She was unsure of herself, like me.
She was dropped off before my parents got home from work so I had her to myself for an hour or so.
She hid under the table.
I crawled under there and pulled her in real close.
Real close, this was a term we would use for her lifetime.
I told her not to worry, that I was hers and she was mine. We had each other.
Something clicked- our souls?- and that was it. Dolly followed me around from that moment on.
Dolly was different than my first dog, who was pretty feral.
Also, as a family we were more mature and able for her.
My dad took over the training and soon had her well behaved.
Even my mam (who is not an animal person) found a place in her heart for Dolly.
It was not long before she was sleeping by the fire at my Mam’s feet when I was out teenagering.
I used to sneak her upstairs some nights. We slept together and I used to worry that my Mam would hear her snoring, but she never did.
I got up with her at 6am to let her out for a wee.
The only other person I would be up that early for is Elfie so, you can imagine how special that makes Dolly.
I used to even talk for her. I put on this voice for my nieces and they would have conversations with her.
When I went travelling for a few months at twenty-one, Dolly went a bit depressed and gained alot of weight.
Mam was probably feeding her into a happy coma.
Mam heals with food, ha-ha.
When I got home I promised never to leave her again.
When I met Robotman and knew he was a keeper I brought Dolly out to meet him.
We stayed overnight and Dolly had a bed in the hall downstairs.
Dolly kept sneaking upstairs and making a nest out of a brown paper bag out on the landing.
Boy was that a noisy process.
Eventually we left her. Then all went quiet.
So we lay there, just about to nod off and ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ.
Did I mention Dolly was a snorer?
Of course she came with me when he and I moved in together.
Dolly started to branch out her affections with Robotman and he quickly became no2 (or even, no1.5).
Robotman fell in love with her.
We soon added two cats to the equation.
Dolly loved cats.
We used to volunteer in the cattery up in the DSPCA each Sunday and Dolly would circle the cattery- protecting them from teasing dogs.
As she was getting old she went blind and a little bit deaf.
I used a training clicker so she could hear me.
When she went fully blind I created scent paths in the house for her.
I rubbed cinnamon along every door arch and furniture corners.
I ran a line of peppermint in a clear path, connecting her food/water with her bed.
She very quickly copped on and started using her nose instead of her eyes to get around the house.
I also used a leg lead to keep her close.
In my pregnancy she went downhill. She got very quiet and spent most days sleeping.
She didn’t really like her walks anymore as I assume she was insecure sensory-wise.
After Elfie was born we brought her home and let Dolly meet her.
Dolly gently licked Elfie’s feet and sniffed her nappy.
That was it then, after Elfie’s birth it was like she was there in body only.
We brought her to the vet when she had a bloodshot eye.
Doc said it looked like a tumour.
We set up our appointment for a scan- a desperate attempt to see if her life could be prolonged.
We knew though, that if she needed surgery we wouldn’t put her through it being quite old and frail.
Her scan was booked in for the Tuesday.
On Monday, Elfie slept all day.
I mean literally- all day. She wouldn’t wake for a feed and slept through her nappy changes.
We even had her at Our Lady’s hospital that night we were so worried (first time parents and all).
Nothing wrong of course and, typically, she became all lively once the nurse came in to check on her.
Anyway, the kid slept all day. I was lying on the sofa trying to rest when Dolly came up and lay on me.
Just like that moment we had ten years before- when my heart spoke to her heart- she told me she was going.
I cried and cried and cried.
All that day, Elfie slept, I cried and Dolly silently sang goodbye.
I knew she would not leave me until I had my new soul-friend.
The next morning we awoke to a ruptured tumour. We didn’t even make it to the scan.
Doc recommended to put her to sleep.
We knew anyway. She had told us.
When I was holding her time really did freeze.
Doc said, ‘she’s gone’.
I had a delayed reaction and eventually I looked at him in shock.
I wasn’t ready.
I stayed with her until she went cold. I couldn’t leave.
And I couldn’t cry.
I went home and took up my four week old baby.
Elfie is two this June.
This is the first day since Dolly died that I have resigned my soul over to grief.
I have been carrying this burden for so long but now it’s time.
It’s interfering with my life.
I am physically in pain ALL the time.
My muscles and joints ache, I am cranky, I am lethargic and I have what appears to be a mighty hernia growing inside my torso.
But I haven’t been ready.
They say there is no timeframe for grief.
Today, Robotman took Elfie down to see her ‘Ninny and Gaga’.
He told me to stay and do nothing.
It’s like he knew I was close to exploding.
So he left and I pottered around the garden planting a few strawberries and veggies etc.
Then I tried to download Paulo Coehlo’s new book and for some reason ibooks wouldn’t give me the English version.
Then I went in and made lunch.
Then I realised I wasn’t hungry but just looking for distraction.
I haven’t ‘done nothing’ in a long long time.
It’s amazing how easy it is to distract yourself when you are avoiding your own soul.
Then I sat out in the garden (thank you Spring! You have finally arrived!)
And Missy. My new dog. My hairy little shitehawk brat of a pup.
Missy lay in front of me, after licking the residue of the tuna salad off my plate.
I can proudly say she waited for permission first.
Anyway, she lay there. The exact same way Dolly used to lie when the sun came out.
And that did it.