My very own not-so-puppy puppy

9th Jun, 2023

Written by Ava Allen

Professional photography by Cindy Allen Photography

Ever since I can remember, I’ve seen Mom and Dad collect Cocker Spaniels from people or had people drop them off at our house.

This always led to the same process: “DO NOT APPROACH THE DOGGY without Mom or Dad present.” This was always hard for me, as welcoming someone new into our house was VERY exciting. However, this was never allowed, and I’d only later understand that there was a lot of personality assessment that went into having a new foster dog in our house.

But guess what was the most wonderful part of this? I helped the doggies find child-friendly homes because I was the “guinea pig” tester! (Mmm, thanks Mom and Dad.)

Together, I hoped that these foster Spaniels and I could break the terrible rumour that Spaniels aren’t child-friendly dogs, and I found many ways of bonding with these doggies. Most of the time, I’d lie just far enough from them so that I didn’t overcrowd or threaten them, and read or play quietly close to them. Eventually, they’d come around and we’d play, go for walks (most are not leash-trained) and chill together.

For a long time, I found the excitement of the new foster and the bond I made with each of them very exciting, but it was the letting go that was the hardest. Mom and Dad saw that this was getting to me, and one night we had a long talk about why they didn’t stay:

1. If they stay, we won’t have space to help more.

2. We’re ultimately working with these dogs to give the dog and some lucky family a happily ever after.

Ok, the assignment is understood. But I was looking for my own “happily-ever-after” doggy.

There was many a time when I’d beg Mom and Dad for a puppy, but the answer was always the same: “No, no, no.” There were too many dogs out there that needed homes and they wouldn’t hear of getting a puppy.

And, like all fairy tales go, one day, after 10 years of fostering everyone else’s “happily ever after”, mine came walking in the front door in the form of a 10-year-old Springer Spaniel named Lilly.

She’d never met or lived with children before. RED ALERT! (according to Mom and Dad). But that night she slept with me on my bed. Lilly came when I lost someone super dear to me and there was a HUGE hole to fill. She knew I needed her before I knew I needed her, and she hasn’t left my side.

Lilly is 10 years old, but when she’s with me we “hunt” squirrels, birds and whatever we can find. She runs around with me like a puppy (well, I found the puppy I wanted after all). She sleeps by me when I just want to read. She completes me.

On my 11th birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted: it was her. Mom and Dad agreed, and the rest is history.

My happily ever after. My foster failure. My not-so-puppy puppy. My Lilly!

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