If you’ve followed my blog you’ll probably have noticed a common denominator in most of the stories, one reoccurring factor that seems to always get a mention. That is of course, Stanley.
I bought Stanley as a pup when I still lived in the UK back in 2014. He was a tiny bundle of apricot fluff. One might have mistaken him for a teddy bear, with his big round eyes and little white tummy. But he was no teddy. Curly fur, nibble teeth and a pompom tail, he was my puppy. My Stanley.
During our first few months together I experienced a concoction of different emotions. Joy, excitement, worry, fear. Am I doing this right? Is that the best option for him? What if he gets sick? But the strongest emotion by far was love. I had never felt such a strong bond with any other living creature.
Aside from the obvious difference in species, Stanley is my baby.
And just like with a human baby I had to go through toilet training, provide a healthy diet, teach him good manners and right from wrong.
As Stanley grew up, our roles reversed, and he was the one who had to look after me. At the end of 2014 I was in a bad situation which caused me lots of stress and upset, this led to me being very poorly. Stanley knew when I needed quiet and rest. He would go to his toy basket, pick out his favourites and place them all around me. When he was satisfied that I was covered in sufficient toys to make me feel better, he would curl up in a ball on my lap and stay there for hours with me.
He doesn’t know it, but he saved me.
He held me together when I was at the brink of falling apart. He showed me unconditional love when my heart was broken. He gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
You can’t hide under the covers crying into your pillow when the dog needs letting out for a wee. Nor can you nail yourself to the sofa watching box sets with a packet of chocolate digestives for company when your pooch is looking at you with “walkies?” eyes.
He will always be my baby, but growing up he has also become my best friend. My companion, my responsibility and my shadow.
Fast forward 3 years and here we are! On our greatest adventure yet. Building a new life in South West France.
Stanley loves it, it makes me happy to see him so happy. I seriously can not take him a walk anywhere without at least one person coming over to stroke him or say hello.
(Yes that’s right, hello to him, not to me)
He comes to every cafe and restaurant, goes in all the shops, he’s even been in changing rooms with me! “Does my bum look big in this?” Really isn’t something I ever expected to be asking the dog!
He makes me laugh out loud, he comforts me when I cry, cuddles me when I am lonely and has given me confidence to talk to people and make new friends out here. (He’s also excellent at disposing of food I sneak under the table if my meat is not quite as well done as I would like it to be.)
As the other apricot haired man in my life once said, “You two come as a package deal.”
And it’s true! You don’t get one without the other with Stanley and I. We share a very special bond that can’t be broken.
‘A dog might only be with you for part of your life, but for him, you are his whole life.’