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Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Well. Haven’t the last few weeks been eventful. My heartfelt apologies and regret for the lack of positing, it has been quite a tough time.

Our dog Maddie has been really unwell, which at only age 10 months has been worrying to say the least. She was so unwell she has been at points unable to eat and was admitted first as an inpatient to our local vets and then into doggy hospital at a specialist centre.

Being told it due to an unlucky complication of her first (routine surgery) was little comfort as we witnessed her decline and weight loss before she was admitted. The brave little soul has now had a total of 2 operations and 5 procedures (all with general anaesthetic and varying levels of post-op recovery) over the past 7 weeks and for the most part has remained as bouncy and crazy as ever she was.

Her nickname, #maddog says it all. Prior to this period of illness, our biggest issue with her was her over-friendliness and general madness around other people, making her almost impossible to restrain on walks and outings. The last time I walked her on my own (over two months ago) she disappeared through a hedge twice, nearly pulled me flat on my face three times and managed to wriggle out of her perfect fit harness, Houdini style.

Other dog owners repeatedly assured me this was typical of a Labrador puppy and that she would calm down in, oh, three or four years or so, but I had been afraid to walk her in case she injured me, a member of the public or herself by running off!

When she was seriously ill, my husband and I had some very difficult conversations about her quality of life, our quality of life and how we would tackle things with our son should the worst happen. It made me really think about her place in our life, my place in hers and the nature of how vulnerable it makes us to build relationships with others, dog or human. I felt I had got far too attached to her and I missed her terribly whilst she was away in hospital and feared for her future.

I found myself missing the naughty stuff (her public face) as well as the cute cuddly puppy we have with us most evenings. I kept checking with my husband about how sad and worried I was feeling, and he assured me I was a normal kind of sad – this is not supposed to happen to a healthy dog so young as she and it is an absolutely rubbish situation.

Despite feeling upset and even angry about having her life as it were in our hands, I now see that I couldn’t have had any other type of bond with my dog. We were always going to be close, regardless of how difficult she makes my life sometimes. Although this has caused me pain, and will again in the future, I wouldn’t change this for the world.

Now, she appears to be on the mend (we hope) and I personally am trying to be grateful for her time with us. For the first few months we had her, I found it really hard to accept my life had changed and sought to control her as a way of making my life easier. I am not sure how my approach will change exactly, I just know that it needs to be different. My expectations of her need to change as do my expectations of myself. I can’t be a perfect dog owner and she can’t be a perfect dog, but we can try to find a happy medium.

The whole point, to me at least, is not that I should be enjoying every moment of owning a dog, but that I can love her and be loved back despite her canine faults and my human ones. There will be hard times, but historically hard times are what has shown me that I can keep going.

I’m sure this won’t be the end of the #maddog saga, she has been trouble from the word go, but I plan to appreciate the ride.

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