Pets have proven themselves time and time again to be the best medicine. Up until I was about 14 I lived with a cat that my mum had had since she was very young, called Fred. Fred was a girl cat, and I remember getting so many questions about her name considering she was a girl. I thought it was quirky and fun, which only made me love her more.
When I was suffering with my sleeping problems from age 7, due to anxiety, Fred was there. She slept on the pillow next to mine and we called it ‘Fred’s pillow’. Because she was an old cat, she didn’t play very much, but that made it better for me. It was so nice to be able to just chill out with her. Pets aren’t only good for stroking and playing with, they’re also very good listeners. Fred listened to all of my problems, if I woke up in the night with a bad dream I would tell her all about it. The fact she probably didn’t understand me didn’t faze me at all. I just liked being able to share what I was thinking with her.
When she passed it was really tough on me. She had been relatively unwell for a while beforehand, so I guess in a way I knew it was coming. She was very old, I believe 18 or something when she died. I just remember feeling very lonely. Almost as if I had made a really good friend, and then they moved away or stopped being my friend for some reason. I suddenly didn’t have anyone to turn over to in the night and stroke, or talk to, or tell stories to. Fred’s pillow was still there, but Fred wasn’t on it.
Then when my parents told us a while later that they were thinking of getting a dog, I was so excited. Soon after that, I got the feeling of betrayal. I felt like Fred wouldn’t want us to get a dog, she wouldn’t want us to have any other pet in general. I kept looking at her picture on my bedside table and telling her “There’s no way I’ll love this dog more than I love you”.
Spoiler alert: I think I do love my current dog more than I love Fred. However harsh that sounds, it is only because Bob the dog and I have got the same bond that Fred and I had. In some ways I almost believe that Bob has a part of Fred’s soul inside him, because he seems to have that same instinct.
When we first went to visit Bob and his little puppy siblings from the breeder (Yes, I know, I’ll adopt next time! Don’t worry.) Bob was the first puppy to actually come up to me and sit on my lap quite happily.
He didn’t seem over energetic or scared of us, he just quite happily sat with each one of us and looked up at us with his big brown eyes. His ears were hilarious back then because they were so big, and his head was so small. I fell in love with him immediately, and I spent the rest of the weeks until we got him thinking about him all the time. I kept Fred’s picture on my bedside table, but now I was telling her “You and Bob would’ve gotten along.”
When my mum first brought Bob home, I practically sprinted to the bus home from school and ran in the front door. I remember he was playing with a toy that was probably 3x the size of him, and he turned around and saw me. It was such a cute moment when he ran up to me and I was able to call him my dog for the first time. I sat on the floor cross legged, and he sat right in the middle of my legs, he fit perfectly!
He definitely can’t do that now, let’s just make that clear.
When Bob was a puppy I mainly focused on helping train him, and playing with him. I never got to play with a pet before, since Fred was so old. He was so energetic as a puppy (he still is now) that he never stopped. It would’ve been hard back then to get him to sit still long enough to tell him any form of my secrets whatsoever. I’d have to run around after him, yelling my secrets at him from 4ft behind.
Now that Bob is nearly 6, he’s calmed down a relative amount. He absolutely loves playing with his ball, and swimming, and walking through muddy swamps. But he also enjoys his downtime, the time where he can lay in the corner bit of our corner sofa and sleep for 10 hours straight. I used to tell him my secrets a lot more, when I was in college and had more interesting secrets to tell him. Nowadays, though, I tend to just sit next to him and say “Bob, what are we going to do?”
I know he can’t help me or talk back or give me advice, but I do know he feels what I feel regardless. He makes me feel less alone, and now I have pictures of Bob in my bedroom – not Fred. It doesn’t mean that I forgot the friendship Fred gave me, it means that her friendship was passed on. It lives in Bob now, and he has more than enough friendship to give. He annoys me sometimes, and he is very mischievous, but I honestly don’t want to think about what would’ve happened if we didn’t have him.
He gives me hope that we get to grow up together, through this crazy world. Technically he’s an adult dog now, and I’m an adult myself. Meaning that we’re going through it together, however drastically different those journey’s may be. I love that he is able to cheer me up without even trying, because I know that however bad my day is, I have something amazing to go home to. Bob will always be happy, regardless.
I think that’s a good way to live.
You can follow Bob on his Instagram!: https://www.instagram.com/bobthespringer/