**This post is written in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts and wording are my own**
Our fur baby, Barney, was almost 15 years old when he sadly had to be put to sleep almost a year ago now. He had been part of our family for 14 and a half years and there is a huge gap in our lives now he has gone. It was the hardest decision we have ever had to make as a family, and we are so grateful we managed to get one last family holiday with him before he went.
Barney was here before the children came along, before Paul and I were even married and he just slotted into our family like he was always meant to be here. He was a rescue dog, left tied up to a bus stop near a local vet the week before Christmas, he was approximately 6 months old. He was timed and quiet, very skinny, almost house trained and the friendliest dog you’d ever meet.
He came to live with us the day after he was found, with our home check waiting until after the Christmas break as it couldn’t be fitted in beforehand. With the home check completed after he had been here for a few weeks already – there was no way he was going anywhere that’s for sure. He was happy, safe, loved and had already put on weight.
He used to go to the office with Paul daily and rarely was there any time he was alone, that didn’t change for the whole time we had him, except that once I’d had the children and started working from home he stayed home with me all day.
Once the children arrived he became even gentler, if that is even possible. He would sit by my side while I breastfed, alert me to when they cried if I happened to be in another room and he even slept by their cots many nights.
He came on nearly all of our holidays with us and once went into kennels for half a day, we were always together. If he couldn’t come on holiday with us then there were always an abundance of friends asking to have him during our breaks away.
I have always grown up with dogs, my parents always had one while I was little and at home and I am so pleased my own children could experience the love which pets bring into the family home.
Owning a pet is very good for children as it helps to teach them many important life lessons along the way such as trust, responsibility and compassion. They learn that other needs have to be considered, such as daily feeding of pets as well as exercise, playing with them and grooming, then there are the bills involved with owning pets such as food, flea treatments and insurance. Petplan Pet Insurance is one company to look into when taking out insurance for your pet – we only had to use ours twice with Barney in the whole 14 and a half years but boy was the first of those bills rather large so we were very grateful – he sliced his paw open very badly on glass when out for a walk, we had to call out an out of hours vet and he had surgery, then a week or so later he chewed his stitches and needed then all over again.
My children had a very special bond with Barney, he knew when they were sad and upset and he would try hard to comfort them, often trying to sit on their laps forgetting just how big he was. He would wiggle up closer and closer to them until they hugged him, this always helped to calm them if they were upset or worried. They could tell him their secrets and know he wouldn’t tell a soul. It’s far easier to pour your heart out to your pet.
Barney did the same for me too, he saw me through my miscarriages, family deaths and arguments. He would comfort me and sit stroking him would make things better, even for a short time at least.
Sadly, the other thing owning a pet helps to teach children is about bereavement. Although they can live quite a while, you will have to say goodbye to them and it’s very hard.
A year after losing Barney we do all still cry, he is very missed and there is something missing from our family home. The children ask when we can get another dog almost weekly but it’s very hard. It isn’t something we’ve wanted to jump into and didn’t want to do it too soon.
It is strange without him here but the time has been needed to heal our broken hearts because your family pet is a beloved member of your family.
We have a holiday booked to Turkey in October however after this we will begin to find the perfect new pet, a new family dog. We will, however, only consider getting a rescue dog as we want to be able to help another dog just as we did for Barney, to give them a new and happy permanent forever home.
Do you have a family pet I would love to hear about them in the comments below or share with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #Pethoodstories. You can see other Pethood Stories here.
Petplan’s #Pethoodstories campaign celebrates pets as an important part of the family. This campaign has focused on encouraging pet owners across the country to share their own #PethoodStories, from funny antics that bring them daily joy, to the worrying moments of dealing with a poorly pet. To coincide with this campaign Petplan have revealed the results of the Petplan Pet Census 2018, which was the largest to date with over 60,000 pet owner entrants.