You may think we’re the ones caring for our little beasts and birds, fish and felines, but anyone who has pets knows that deep down the tables are turned. They care so much for us with their constant, indelible dedication and often-unwavering playfulness. There’s nothing more uplifting and heart-warming than the love of a pet, a sort of magic that can keep us sane and boost our health in the darkest of times.
We could fill volumes with stories from across New Zealand about our loyal little mates bringing joy and wellbeing, so here are just a few choice tales from within our community of pets who have brought light to their owners and in some cases, kept them alive, inspired by the adorable Kiwi blog called A Letter To My Dog. Talk to your pet, remind them how much they mean to you and treat them to something special. You are always something special to them.
Toby and Rufus
“So, Rufus. Dad’s moved to Wellington. You know he had to for work, right? Well, I suppose you’ve figured that out by now, as it’s been some months. You’re not forgetting about him though, are you? I hope not. I’m not.
“Since he’s been away it’s been really hard. You might not understand this, but with him gone, I have relied on you a whole lot more. The important thing, Rufus, is that you stand by me as the ground keeps shaking. You jump on the bed and snuggle up close when there is a big quake. I don’t think this place is really for you anymore. And you know when there are emotional quakes too. These are the ones you are best at putting to rest. It means the world to me that you do this.
“And after Carlos moved, in those critical first few weeks, boy you really were there for me. I’d come home from work to a home that was more of just a house now and there you were…waiting for me. Always wagging that big tail of yours and seeming to grin from ear to ear while I dropped off my bag and grabbed your leash.
“I suppose I held it together because you were there. It could have gotten really ugly, thinking about the hole in my life that is my husband working in another city, but you kept me sane… and focused. I used to think you needed me, but now I know it has been the other way around for some time.
“And for that, Rufus, I thank you.”
Michael and Keo
“When I was recuperating from being at death’s door in the mid ’90s, one of my brothers bought you, Keo, and I ended up looking after you most of the time.
“I seriously believe that having you in my life helped my recovery immensely. I stopped focusing on my troubles so much, something that was easy to do while I was sick. You made me laugh doing silly dog things and made me exercise having to keep up with your happy, young Doberman energy. Constantly throwing a stick or a ball was good for building up my upper body strength after I’d wasted away to nearly nothing.
“Your love was truly unconditional. Whatever I did was right in your eyes. And having that unconditional love when I was feeling so sick, so ugly, so diseased, and thought I would soon be dead was so hugely valuable.
“I hope you understand why we had to put you to sleep, Keo. By your old age all your health problems left us no choice. It was so painful having to kill you when you had only every given me so much love. You know it was my duty to look after you, too, and I did it to the end.
“Keo, you were so much a part of my life, and really, a part of my healing. You didn’t know or care that I had HIV, that I had to take 40 something pills a day, or that I was sick. Thank you for all you gave me, I owe you a huge debt. I don’t know if I’d be here without you.”
Martin, Jay and Jack
“Jack, you are our best mate and have kept us both company during our recent illnesses – always appearing when we’re eating or preparing food. You have a habit of barking when you want attention with your distinctive throaty bark, whether it is to look out on the world from the front veranda or to alert us to feeding time. As the afternoon drifts by, you come in to remind us that it’s almost dinnertime. Anytime from 2pm onwards you appear, trying to stare us out with your ‘feed me now’ attitude.
“But life wouldn’t be as much fun without you here with us both for those kisses and cuddles. You’ve always been a very loving boy with a cheeky but very gentle nature.
“You’ve been a great friend from right when you were a pup, Jack, seeming to know when we’re feeling down or are unwell. If we ever need cuddles or just want to roll around on the floor, you’re right there to do it with us. If we could give you out in pill form to eliminate stress there would be some very happy people out there. We could not live the life we live without you, dear Jack.
“It was your 10th birthday recently and how quickly the decade has flown by. We’re so glad we’ve always taken plenty of photos and video footage to recall all those special moments. They always cheer us up and make us laugh. A big thank you for being our very special boy. We would do anything for you.”
David, Paul, Bertie and Thomas
“Last July I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Maurice, one of our original cats, had died just before I got the news, but Beryl was still with us. It was a very stressful time and as if Beryl knew, she became the most affectionate she had ever been to both of us, always close by.
“In September my scheduled cancer surgery went horribly wrong, making surgery out of the question and radiation my only option. Beryl was very clingy, always with us, so I know she sensed our worries. Sadly two weeks later she passed away unexpectedly while having a tooth removed.
“The house suddenly seemed so quiet and all the health stress was tough on us. Although we were going to leave it for a year before getting more cats, a look on the internet one day changed that instantly and within a week you two moved into our lives. Thomas and Bertie, you were just eight weeks old and the best thing we could have done.
“You brought life back into the house, making us laugh at your adorable antics, which helped us get through a tough few months. When I was in bed you would be there, running around the bedroom causing havoc and curling up beside me when you got tired. Even when I wasn’t feeling my best you would make me laugh. You were one of the best tonics.
Along with amazing support from our good friends you, Thomas and Bertie, have helped us though a very difficult time. Do our pets help us through difficult times? Absolutely, because I know you have!”
Mo and Saffy
“Without you in my life I know I would not be here today. When things were at their darkest and I was struggling to get through a deep depression your big brown eyes showed the love I needed. It was this unconditional love that gave me a reason to keep going.
“You never judged me but stayed by my side when I could not face the outside world. You mean the world to me and know that others don’t always understand why I spoil you. We have both been through some hard times, like when you were attacked by a pig dog you showed your loyalty to me by sticking by my side and not running off.
“Your personality is so strong and loving, you greet all our visitors with a big smile or a muffled bark with your rubber bone in your mouth, inviting them to play but never letting them have it. You have been so graceful with the changes in our lives and have welcomed Leif into our pack.
“I see your muzzle going grey as my goatee changes to the same shades as well. We have had such great lives together and know we have many more years to come. I love you with all my heart.”
Mike and Bosco
“I grew up with dogs as a kid but never really ‘got’ the emotional connection owners have with their pets until you popped into my life one ordinary weekend seven years ago, Bosco, when we turned up at my partner’s Mum’s house to see her new litter. There were puppies everywhere but I only saw you and knew within two minutes that you’d be coming home with us to be a part of our lives for the next 14 or so years. What I didn’t expect was the sense of family that you would give us, Bosco. We were a little team, the three of us.
“When Matt moved to Wellington for work for six months, you were my emotional support. You were such a good stand in for an absent partner and you had a knack for reading my moods, one of the things I love most about you.
“When Matt and I broke up in 2010, losing you in the separation was especially hard because that was when I needed you the most. One day you were my little man who would follow me everywhere and the next you were gone. There was a very real grieving process for me, and I remember thinking it was like someone had died.
“It’s so hard having you and Matt all the way in Perth, but thankfully Matt and I have remained best mates, so I didn’t completely lose my little man. You’ve got a great life with Matt, but there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t miss you, Bosco.”
Logan and Barq
“I’ve always quite a fit person, but after the constant abuse and head games by my controlling now ex-boyfriend I had gained 20kgs, lost much of my confidence and become a recluse by the time I finally left him last August. When I was with him I had always wanted a dog but was shot down, so once I was free of him and had a new home with a massive outdoor area I decided to finally find you.
“Last November I spotted you online, a little 12-week old puppy and I instantly fell in love. As I started all the arrangements with the Waikato SPCA I already felt a change in myself; I had a sense of love in my heart again and I hadn’t even met you. The second they put you in my arms and you started licking my face, I knew instantly that we were meant to be together.
“You’re my first dog, Barq, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the more you’ve wanted to play the more active I’ve become. With this newly found energy I’ve started back at the gym five to six times a week along with our 5km runs every other morning.
“I’m so happy to be the outgoing, funny guy I used to be. I’ve lost 15kgs so far, am ready to go out and find love again and have you to thank. You’ve warmed my soul, Barq, and I honestly believe opening my life to you was the best decision I could have ever made.”
Sarah, Janene and Gurl
“Thank you for always welcoming us with a wagging tail and sheer delight on your face. We love to take you with us wherever we go, but sometimes you have to stay home. We hope
“Gurl, you’re always there to greet us, our friends and family, lowering your head for pats and cuddles – you’re a real sweetheart. You came to us for a reason and that reason is for us to love you and for you to share your unconditional love with us.
“You are there when we need you, you cheer us up when we are feeling down by showing off with your toys on the lawn, tossing them into the air and pounding after them as your cute fat body wiggles giving your tail a spin. Gurl, you seem to always know when one of us is unwell – you look at us lovingly and you lay with us for hours.
“When we’re all out in the ute you lay down or sit up on your cushion in the middle of the two front seats and nudge my arm then Sarah’s and continue doing this until you get cuddles and pats. One day you’re going to get one of us when we are holding a huge ice cream square in the nose.
“You have been our sanity through hard times, times of loss and emotional pain because we know you love us. Thank you, Gurl, for being so loving and know we love you with all our heart.”
| Leif Wauters