Everybody knows that you’re my best friend.
You are in most of my dreams, the little grey creature at my feet. After all, you are always with me in conscious life so why should sleep be any different?
You have travelled with me through eight different countries. You ride with me on escalators and have mastered the Underground. All beds are your bed, so long as they have me in it.
You have sat up to the table in restaurants and eaten steak from your own plate. You have shared almost every meal of mine since that first day, before you were my dog, when you coaxed my cupcake from my hands using nothing but your paws.
You are frightened of cats, chicken and fish. You love kisses but hate to have your paws touched.
You welcomed the love of my life when you first met her at Charing Cross Station and had won her heart by the time that we reached Chislehurst. You have always had good taste in people.
You stared up at me with bemused eyes as I waved the pregnancy test at my partner, as we laughed and hugged. You welcomed my twins with a cautious sniff and a wag of your tail and have slept at their feet in our bed most nights since.
Best friends are always supportive of smart life choices.
You were the best choice that I ever made.
You came into my life three years ago, a pair of baleful eyes in a body so matted by dreadlocks that only the tail gave away which end was which. You watched me from behind your bars as I went about my day, stopping to talk to my favourites.
You were not one of my favourites.
How could you not be one of my favourites?
It took me a while to realise how much I needed you but when I fell, I fell hard.
You have always known me. And you love me anyway. You seem to read my mind so often that I’m surprised when I have to ask you to do something. I get annoyed if I have to ask you twice. You still love me, even when I’m irritable with you and don’t understand.
You are the best little dog.
You are irreplacable.
You make me smile every time I think of you, even on a bad day.
I’m sorry that I have to go to work and leave you gazing after me. I know that you have a super time with your mama and brothers but that doesn’t stop you from missing me. I miss you too.
I’m sorry that I don’t make every minute count, even though you have a finite number of years and you were old when I found you. I should take more time to pause and bury my face in your fur, or pick up your lead and take you, dancing, into the sunshine.
I should make less excuses. I should remember how precious you are.
We had a scare this week. We were reminded of your fragility, your mortality.
We should have been celebrating three years of you and instead we were spending hours on the telephone to vets, asking how you were. Discussing your treatment and your prognosis.
You are coming home today.
We got lucky. We have you for a while longer. To cuddle every day. To tuck up in my bed every night, how you like it – head on a pillow, under the duvet. Your body against mine. Warm and safe.
You always know when I am coming for you. Ears pricked, nose to the air. Helicopter-tailed, impatience making dancers of your feet. Waiting. Ready. Alert to the possibility of my walking through the door.
My sweetest girl, my best friend.
I’m bringing my dog home.
(Pictures taken on Tuesday, fewer than 24 hours before she was admitted to doggy hospital).