My healing pup

Crazy dog lady here! Today is our beautiful Ralph’s 1st birthday and what better way to celebrate than to write a little blog post about what joy and love he has brought to our life – especially mine.

I am going to be honest – I am not a dog person, I never have been and probably never will be. I am a Ralph person. The desire to introduce a little pup to our life was definitely a shock. I did not ever anticipate that I would so badly want a puppy. Nor did I anticipate that I would have my armour and sword drawn ready to battle our landlords (my parents) and future body corporates during the hunt to buy our own place.

So what was it over a year ago that made me start the hunt for a puppy and, in turn, convince Serge that we NEEDED a puppy?

Looking back, I was probably at one of my biggest slumps and struggling with all the emotions that terminal illness brings. I was lonely and losing motivation to find ‘things’ to fill my day – something that is such a distant memory (this blog and everything that comes with it feels like a full time job!). I was sick of people taking care of me and having no real responsibility. And, most of all, I was sad that Serge and I were not making our own babies.

To a large extent, a puppy was the answer.

I sit here swallowing my words. There were so many moments before we got Ralph that I laughed at the concept of a ‘healing pup’. I would sit questioning the sanity of people that would hashtag #healingpup – I am now one of those people. I honestly could not comprehend the so-called healing power of a dog. I was sooooo wrong!

Similarly to a green smoothie, I do not think Ralph is going to cure my cancer. HOWEVER, where Ralph and a green smoothie differ is that Ralph has the ability to make me oh so happy and gives me reason to smile on the shittiest of days.

Handsome boy!

We chose Ralph, who is a Cavoodle (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Toy Poodle), first and foremost for his good looks. But, on a serious level, we had to be smart about this. We needed a dog that would be suitable for someone who is sick and will get sicker. It was always my dream to have a Great Dane and Serge wanted a manly dog, but neither would be practical. There will be a point where I can not give a dog the activity they need and nor will I want this monster of a dog on my bed on days that I just can’t make it out. We needed a small, gentle and loving teddy bear dog. Enter Ralphie.

I have always known that getting Ralph was the right decision, but it has been in the last few months that I have really noticed the power of my ‘healing pup’ and felt the comfort of knowing that when things do deteriorate with my health Ralph is going to step up to the challenge and be everything that we wished he would be.

The last few months I have found myself struggleing emotionally with the death of another melanoma patient that I had spent lots of time talking to, I struggled with the fear that my disease had progressed when I developed an unexplainable twitch, and I have had months of on and off sinus infections that now requires surgery. There has been lots of couch time. Ralph puts his crazy puppy needs on hold and never leaves my side. He knows when I need rest and plenty of cuddles.

Ralph's birthday loot.

This is where the true healing power of a puppy comes into play. I can’t always have Serge or my family and friends with me, nor do I want this. As much I love Serge and my family, I need to sometimes be by myself and not feel the worry of my loved ones. I think Serge and my family feel a sense of comfort in knowing that even if I am at home alone Ralph will be my company and there to provide cuddles if I need them, and also the comfort in knowing that Ralph will get me out of the house and make me take him to the dog park, and inturn interact with the outside world.

Ralph has definitely softened the blow of knowing that Serge and I won’t have our own children. If life were different, it would probably be now that Serge and I would be considering starting a family. I would be almost at the end of my studies and now have our own place to call home. Although, I still feel the heartbreak of not having children, I feel that Serge and I have experienced a sense of being a real family. I am a crazy dog lady and consider Ralph our little baby. We love our nieces and nephews, but we also love being able to strategically exit when there is a dirty nappy or impressive tantrums. We often leave visiting our nieces and nephews saying, ‘isn’t it great that Ralph doesn’t talk back or cry or shit his pants’.  Yay for dogs!

Birthdays are the best.

Our love for Ralph definitely became apparent the other night. Serge often does not cry about our circumstances, but there was a little tear the other night. We were sitting on the couch with Ralphie in between us and he turned around and asked me how him and Ralph will cope without me.  The genuine worry and fear was so evident. It was not about the sadness they will both experience, instead it was about the real concern that he just won’t know how to live and cope in a world without me. Serge worries about Ralph’s dependence on me, as well as how he will find the time to care for Ralph after I am gone.

After I am gone, Ralph is going to be Serge’s healing pup and he will be amazing at this job. Ralph will be Serge’s connection to me. Ralph will make Serge get out of bed. Ralph will make Serge smile. All of the logistics will work itself out.

I feel comfort knowing that Serge will have Ralph.

To my beautiful Ralph, you are the best decision Serge and I have made. Thank you for bringing so much joy and hope to our lives.

My beautiful family.