I adore dogs. There were very few years when I was growing up that we didn’t have one. Our beautiful white lab Toby was already there when I was born, and a couple of years after he died, we adopted Nicky – a very energetic border collie, crossed with something else we never figured out. He had a lifelong fear of feet, poor old love, so there was probably some unpleasantness in his previous life.
After Nicky, we adopted Buster, a golden lab who was also free to a good home. He was a very loving chap, if rather disobedient, who was quite unpredictable when off the lead. This led to some very amusing scenes with my father – who believed he had his adopted hound well trained, and under his control – chasing him up and down fields, calling his name, a la Fenton (any excuse to share the Fenton link – here it is: Fenton the Dog in Richmond Park ).
I grew up, met and married the love of my life: Mr RLC Words. I discovered his only drawback early on – a pet fur allergy (and it’s bad). But it was a trade-off I was happy to make, because he is extremely wonderful, and I quickly accepted that we wouldn’t ever own a dog as a family.
Then we became a family of four, and as our boys – in particular the older one – have grown up, they have developed a real love for dogs. It started when we went to stay with my uncle in the Lake District one summer, and he was dog-sitting a stunning black lab called Alfie. Our older boy fell instantly in love, and the tears on leaving him were unprecedented; but when he asked the question about getting a dog ourselves, the answer of course had to be “No”.
Until last year. I don’t know what changed with my husband – perhaps being around my sister’s whippet from a pup to a two year old, and seeing the joy, happiness and companionship they can bring. Perhaps it was seeing the deep, true love that our older boy has for any dog he meets, and the almost physical pain he seems to feel when he has to leave one. Either way, Mr RLC began talking to me last year about the different options, and whether we could in fact find a dog breed that wouldn’t set his eyes weeping and chest tightening within moments of a single pat.
So after lots of research, and talking to dog owner friends and family, we decided on a cavapoo. This cute little cross breed mixes a Cavalier King Charles spaniel with a poodle, usually resulting in a curly coat that doesn’t shed (although you’ve got to be careful that the one you choose has inherited more of a poodley coat than a spanielly one). Then it was time to tell the boys, which we decided to do on Christmas Day. We could think of no present that would give them more of that real Christmas gift joy, than something they desperately wanted, but thought they could never have. And it was perfect.
So, since Christmas, we’ve been looking. There are advantages and drawbacks to having a puppy and adopting an older dog, so we are considering both. We are also involving the boys in the whole process, even when it’s hard. The first dog we went to see was beautiful Buddy, an 18 month old whose owners were divorcing. It was an hour’s trek out on a weekday evening (I resent anything over 15 minutes since moving to MK), and he was simply gorgeous; but there was so much interest in him, and we were one of a dozen families visiting that week. On the Friday night, the owners made their decision, and sadly it wasn’t us – which was sad for all of us, but especially the boys.
So after yet more research, we have decided to join a waiting list with a most reputable breeder, who is expecting a cavapoo litter from her family pets in the next few weeks. More rivers to cross before we finally get there, of course, but we are on our way to having our very own family pupper – and it’s a dream coming true.