Missing a dog, a mate, a guardian

Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014

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Tosh was my best friend. Just typing this I'm fighting back the tears as I still struggle with missing him so much.

I had him from birth. His mother was also my dog and she had a litter of 10 pups. Tosh was one of the first puppies out and he was massive, possibly the cutest thing I had ever laid eyes on.

I begged my former partner to let us keep him, and reluctantly he said yes. It was the best decision I ever made.

His official name was Peter MacinTosh, but we called him Tosh, Toshy Boy, Toshywash, Boofhead.

He was an American Staffy/ Pitbull. He looked tough but those who knew him could see he was a special, sweet, loving and sensitive boy. He especially loved females and was a gentle old soul.

Tosh was with me when I turned 21, he was a pageboy at my wedding a few years later and was also by my side when I was pregnant with my daughter.

My former partner and I were worried how the dogs would cope when the baby came along, but they were wonderful, especially Tosh.

He stuck so close to my daughter. If she cried he would come and find me. He used to lie down next to her and lick her face. She tormented him, as most small children do to dogs, but he just sat there and smiled his goofy dog smile.

I was divorced a few years after I had my daughter and Tosh was with me then too. Through many teary nights, he would back himself up on to my lap and look into my eyes as if he knew I was not happy. If I cried, he knew. He had this sense about him and he would always come and find me in the house when I had been out of sight for too long. He slept next to me in bed, and listened to all my sadness and secrets.

Almost two years ago now my former husband passed away suddenly, and again, Tosh was there, keeping me warm at night and letting my tears fall on to his head as he snuggled into me.

He and my daughter were the best of friends, and the nights when she would sob herself to sleep over Daddy being gone, Tosh was just there. He slept in her room a lot, next to her bed, keeping an eye on her.

I lived alone with my daughter for a few years, and he was our guardian. Welcoming people into our home, and warding off anyone he did not like. I could sleep with windows open and always felt safe that he would keep us out of harms way.

Over the last year, his health went downhill. He was a robust old man but the weight started to drop and he suffered a seizure right in front of me. It almost broke my heart. He was medicated, and seemed happy enough but he was not the same. Cancer - bloody cancer - was running through his body.

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I had recently met a new partner and Tosh accepted him, which was important to me. He could see how upset his deteriorating health was to me.

After one weekend close to Christmas, Tosh started passing blood, we knew his time was coming. It was decided that we would let him enjoy his last Christmas with us, so we got him presents and wrapped them up like I had for the last 13 years. He was spoiled rotten on Christmas day, ate his presents, and ate tonnes of leftovers (including half a pavlova). 

He slept on our bed that night, and I think he knew his time was coming. My partner, daughter and I took him for a nice walk and threw a ball with him - he loved it, but we could also see how tired he was.

Two days after Christmas 2013 we took him into our vet. I sat with him in the boot of my station wagon and we talked. He cuddled me and looked at me with his big beautiful soulful eyes like he knew it was almost time. The vet was so wonderful and told me what to expect. Once I accepted it, we were ready.

A kind stranger, who was at the vet at the time, saw what was happening and managed to convince my daughter to go and pat her puppy while we did what needed to be done. I thanked her afterwards - my girl was broken about having to say goodbye to her best friend.

I held him as he passed and the worst part was feeling his final breath leave his body. I sobbed so much; I had never felt that kind of grief before. My partner was also crying. It was a hard day.

We drove in silence back to my in-laws' property where we buried Tosh. He sits up on a beautiful grassy hill overlooking paddocks and a beautiful part of Auckland. We go and sit with him sometimes, just to remind ourselves of the beautiful, gentle soul that looked after us for so long.

I miss him every day, and often wish I had more time with him. But I am grateful for the time and friendship we had.

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- Stuff


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