It’s hard to believe this, but it was 3 years ago today, on November 19 in 2011, when I came into my Parents’ lives. The photo above was taken when we had literally just arrived home – to my new home in Edinburgh, with my new Parents. I look pretty unsure of what’s happening here, as you might expect. Inside, I remember, I was freaking out just a little bit. Up until this day, I’d been living with my pack miles away in Kirkintilloch, and I’d been hanging with Little Bud, who was my best mate. He was a week younger than me, and we spent our nights snuggling together in our den, and our days rampaging like crazy young pupsters. We were inseparable.
And this, this right here might not have happened. When Mum and Dad first came to visit the breeder, Elizabeth, in Kirkintilloch (I’m still not sure what a ‘breeder’ is exactly), they knew there were two puppies, but Elizabeth mentioned that she had been thinking of keeping me. I was 19 weeks old at the time and a strapping young fellow. Elizabeth thought Mum and Dad might like Little Bud. And they did, especially Dad. Little Bud was full of cheek, so, naturally, this characteristic appealed to my Dad.
Mum, however, wasn’t so sure. “I get enough of that from you,” she told Dad. I had caught her eye. “He seems… calmer,” she says. How first appearances can be deceptive. “I reckon he might be… quieter…” (Ed: first appearances really are deceptive.) Mum and Dad were in a quandary. They spent an hour or two talking to Elizabeth (I can’t remember as I was too busy rampaging to pay attention) and then they left.
“Who were those peeps?” I asked Little Bud. I had done a little poop beside Mum’s chair, just to make her feel welcome. (Ed: I should have paid more attention to this.) “I’ve no idea,” Little Bud replied. “They smelt okay though.”
And that was that. Until two weekends later – yes, two weekends – these strangers came back, smiling, looking a bit anxious, but also really happy, and off I went. When I was thinking about writing this, I asked Mum why they didn’t take me home that first day, and why they waited. “We were thinking,” she explained. “And I mean really thinking. I knew that you were The One, but I’d always said that we wouldn’t start a family (Ed: this being a canine family) until we had a garden. It didn’t seem fair to have a dog living where we do, in a top floor flat. I thought house training would be a nightmare. (Ed: it was.) I thought you’d miss having a garden to run around in. But then, the longer we thought about it, the more we realised that we couldn’t keep putting our lives on hold until things were ‘right’. Sometimes, you have to just jump in.”
And jump in they did. We all did. At first, I really missed Little Bud. I missed the pack. (Again, I’ve asked Mum about this and she said that, had we had a garden, Little Bud and I would have been coming home together.) I spent the first night in my new home crying at the top of my tiny but powerful lungs. Mum eventually placed my bed beside her, so that every time I cried even a little, she could reach down and touch me. None of us got much sleep for those first few nights.
And “house-training”…. well, that was interesting. It was November, and it was a particularly cold winter that year. Once it was dark, Mum had to carry me outside wrapped in a fleecy blanket as it was too cold for me to walk, and I wouldn’t do ‘business’ on any hard surfaces, like pavements, so I was transported to the nearest patch of grass. The world was overwhelming to a little dude. But day by day, I started to realise that there were some really great sniffs out there. We went to our local park, which was huge. That first Sunday, day 2, I went to meet my Grannie and Uncle Bracken for the first time. Meeting my Uncle Bracken was the moment when I realised that this new life was going to be okay.
And, of course, day by day, I grew to know your Parents, and they grew to know me.
Here I am with Dad. We were having a deep conversation in this photo (I Instagrammed about it a while back). In those early months, Dad was home a lot as he wasn’t working at the time, so we got close. I challenged his perceptions of what having a “little dog” would be like, because small in stature does not mean small in attitude.
Now, three years on, my Parents can’t believe how much their lives have changed. They used to love going to the movies, going for weekend walks in the city, going away for a weekend, but now they don’t do things unless I’m involved (okay, I allow them the occasional movie), which means woodland and beach walks and dog-friendly cafés (or having a carry-out in the car when we can’t find anywhere that’s dog-friendly). That’s what family’s about, after all. Their lives now revolve around, well, me.
And if you ask Mum whether she used to feel maternal, she’ll tell you no. Never. Until now. (Ed: this is true.) She can’t remember exactly when it happened – “Though it wasn’t when you were a puppy peeing all over the rugs, that’s for sure,” she says – but at some point I got under her skin, and that’s where I’ve stayed.