A couple of months ago, I lost my best friend of 16 years.
I was in primary school when my Nana adopted Holly from the SSPCA. I was around 7 or 8 years old and being bullied. It transpired around ten years later when going through cognitive behavioural therapy for clinical depression that at this tender age, I had began to develop this condition. Holly herself hadn't had the best start in life. She and her brothers and sisters had spent the first five months of puppyhood locked in a pitch-black garden hut. From the day they came into the world until the day they were rescued, they were mistreated and had no idea of the blue sky or green grass just out of their reach.
I think that for both of us, the day she was welcomed into my family was one of the happiest days of our lives. I have a condition called dyspraxia which impacts on my memory, I can remember very little about my childhood up until the point of being about 12 or 13. But the day I met Holly is one I remember vividly to this day.
I've always had a real connection to the natural world and the animals that occupy it. They've been the one genuine interest in my life that have stood the test of time. Knowing how happy it would make me to get a dog, my family kept my Nana's plans a secret. Then one day, I was unsuspectingly taken out of school slightly early and down to the SSPCA. I can still remember the feeling I felt when the assistant brought her out, like someone had released a thousand butterflies in my stomach. She was everything I used to be and wanted to be again: full of life yet easy going and unburdened. Her coat symbolised the hope she brought to my life: luminously healthy and ever renewing itself.
Although there were a few teething problems (quite literally), she became my best friend instantly. I didn't tell my family that I was being bullied. I didn't want to upset them or give the bullies any more ammunition. So, I talked to Holly. I talked to her for her hours. She listened and comforted me just by being there. Sometimes I would rest my head on her stomach and just cry. Despite being a lively collie and labrador cross, she never seemed to get bored or frustrated with this. I genuinely don't know how I would have gotten through it without her.
Losing her has left behind an empty part of me. She will always occupy a space of my heart. As I write this, I find it difficult not to get emotional. She really was my best friend. She taught me how to love and that your spirit is stronger than anything the world can throw at it. I will forever be grateful to her for that. Sleep well, my friend. I will always miss you.
If you ever consider bringing an animal into your life, please #adoptdontshop. Buying from breeders directly contributes to the suffering and homelessness of animals all over the world. You will never regret rescuing another - equally intelligent and beautiful - being.