A letter to... my dog

‘On our walks together, you gave me the freedom to think clearly’: the letter you always wanted to write

On 19 March 2018, just a few miles from where we lived, you were born. I knew absolutely nothing of you and hadn’t even considered adding another member to our family. That was until one day in April when I started looking through adverts for puppies.

You see, at this time I was becoming increasingly concerned about our teenage daughter. She had been spending more and more time away from the family, isolated in her room, bad-tempered and unsociable. She seemed unhappy most of the time. She had talked of wanting a dog for a long while, so I thought: if I do this for her it will boost her mood, get her out more and give her a new focus.

To my surprise, our daughter’s reaction was not what I expected when I introduced the two of you – had I made a mistake?

I soon began to understand that you were not going to bring her out of this sadness she was carrying around like a dark cloud. Yet you still needed taking care of, so, naturally, most of the duties of your care fell upon me.

Then, in July of that year, our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia. Our lives were turned upside down because of this illness, as she faced the biggest challenges of her life. My husband and I had differing ideas about what would be the best course of action to take; the illness sent the whole family into chaos. Without you, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to find clarity. On our walks together, you gave me the freedom to think clearly and rationally, without distraction. I found a calmness that I never would have, had I been at home with Google.

Give him the exercise he needs. All pets need regular exercise to stay fit and to release their energy. Without it, your pet will begin to act out. Young pets that do not get enough exercise are more likely to develop negative behavioral issues that lead many to give up their pet.

In September, we kept our daughter off school and I looked after her, putting everything else on hold. During that time I bonded with her and she bonded with you. She rejoined school in the middle of September, and by the end of October last year was, slowly but surely on the road to recovery.

I cannot say for sure if she is out of the woods yet, but she has done a fantastic job in regaining her health: I feel like we have our daughter back.

Thank you for your constant love and playfulness, and for showing me the simple pleasures of life. But most of all, thank you for being my light in the dark.

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