The first weekend I came home after I'd moved to Brighton for university, I walked into my parent’s house and a golden blur ran out of the living room and started jumping up at me. Unused to such treatment I slowly turned in a circle as the blur tried to get me to face it. Before too long my brother came downstairs and started laughing, and eventually mum turned up and helped me escape. The blur’s name is Lola, and she is the best dog in the world.
I wouldn’t have considered myself much of a ‘dog person’ before I knew Lola. I’d loved my grandparents’ dog Muffy, who’d been around pretty much my entire life, but only saw her a few times a year when we’d go and visit them. It was my mum and my brother who really wanted the dog, but our house growing up wasn't very big so we didn't think we had the room. The moment I left for university, though, they replaced me. Not being too far away from home, I used to come home from university fairly frequently and so I got to spend a lot of time with Lola and got very, very attached very, very quickly.
She’s constantly bringing you things—often, to my mother’s chagrin, clean teatowels—but not to give to you, just to show you. If you try to take them from her she’ll refuse and play tug-of-war and you’ll have to get a new teatowel. She’ll pick up bits of kitchen towel which dissolve in her mouth and get dribbled all over the house. When you’re sitting on the sofa she will come and put her head in your lap and if you stop stroking her she’ll jump up at you to demand more attention. She lies upside-down under the coffee table with her legs sticking up. When she sleeps by the fire, sometimes she’ll bark and her muscles twitch, like she’s chasing something in her dream.
She failed out of multiple dog behaviour classes, including a remedial one for extremely poorly-behaved dogs. A behaviourist once told us she had “dog autism”, which for my family is frankly very appropriate. She hated being on a lead around other dogs; when walking her we either had to avoid them or pick her up to comfort her, but when off the lead she’d roll over and get her tummy out for them.
There are nearly 40000 photos in my iCloud library, and (from a quick scan) something like 10% of those are of Lola. This is at least in part because she is so hyperactive that it's very difficult to get a clear shot of her. She's slowed down a bit as she's got older, but not that much.
This morning I got a text from my mum to say Lola was going in for a scan and they were pretty sure it was going to come back positive for cancer. She's been a bit ill since Christmas, but this came as a quite a shock. I spent most of the day crying, praying, or trying as hard as I could to focus on work to take my mind off. I was ready for the call telling me to get a train home to say goodbye.
But, to my suprise and delight, I instead got a call saying she was clear. They're still not sure what's causing her issues—possibly some kind of rare-but-treatable kidney condition, more tests needed—but the worst-case scenario that had been terrifying us had been averted. After a day of unbearable tension I was finally able to breathe, and I felt like Scrooge laughing for the first time in years at the end of A Christmas Carol.
I will confess: I started writing this in the past tense early this afternoon, because I knew I wanted to write something about her if the worst did happen and didn't think I'd be able to manage it after it had. When it didn't, though, I thought I'd post it anyway—because Lola is wonderful and I shouldn't have to wait for something bad to happen for me to talk about her. She's not going to be around forever, but she's still around now, bringing joy to everyone she meets—and hopefully in some small measure to you too.