By Olivia Hanna
When I was five, all I ever asked for was a little brother or sister. I was an only child and sometimes it got lonely having only myself to play with. My mom was raising me by herself, so a little sibling was definitely not on the cards, yet I kept insisting.
In January of 2001 my mom and grandparents decided a puppy would be the answer to my prayers; a steadfast companion to stave away my loneliness. My mom, my grandmother, and myself, went to a breeder where little white fluffy puppies dashed around. I now had to decide which one I wanted to bring home. The decision was easy. I set my sights on the liveliest of the bunch, the most playful puppy in the back of the room.
I remember holding him for the first time like it was yesterday. He was so small, but so was I, he was heavy in my arms. We brought him home and a few days later he had a name, MacGlinty. A silly name, but it fit his personality perfectly. He quickly became part of the family.
We grew up together and although we were two different species we were a lot like siblings. He would chew the feet off of my Barbie dolls and I would hate him for a moment, but at the end of the day we were fiercely protective of each other and had a bond that could not be broken.
As I grew older, he was less like a brother and more like my baby. He still looked like a puppy and I slept with him every night. He was such a bed hog even though he was so small, because he always found his way to the centre of my double bed. One night before bed he had stepped into his own poo, but I didn’t realize it until he tracked it across my duvet. I wrapped his foot in plastic and called it a night.
By the time I left home in America and came to Ireland for college, he was nearly 14 years old, and I made sure I always said extra special goodbyes because I didn’t know what would happen in the months I was away. But each time I came back he was there with a wagging tail waiting for hugs, kisses, and snuggles like I had never left.
He was in the car with my mom at the airport this spring when I came back home. I loved on him all summer, but we all noticed little changes in him. He got picky about eating and seemed more anxious than usual. He was healthy so we knew it was just old age, he was 16 after all.
On 30 July while my mom was downstairs cooking he was barking at the door, which he never did, so I brought him to the kitchen to eat with us. My mom rolled her eyes, but I couldn’t have left him upstairs barking. Later that night I brought him for a walk. For some reason I didn’t I didn’t put a leash on him. As we were about to enter the house I looked into his eyes for a few minutes and it was like we silently told each other how much we loved each other and thanked each other for 16 wonderful years of friendship.
We went to sleep and he never woke up.
The pain I felt in my heart and soul when I found him was the worst I ever experienced. I screamed and cried as we drove his tiny sleeping body to the vet to say goodbye for the last time. Even writing this is hard as I come to grips with the fact that I will never be able to hold him in my arms or look into his eyes again.
It is so strange and so profoundly beautiful how an animal can touch our lives for the short time they are with us. He made life worth living and allowed me to see the beauty in the little things. He made me laugh and comforted me in my worst times.
While the pain of losing him will forever be with me, the time I had with him was worth the heartbreak. A pet is more than a pet. A pet is a family member and although we give them food and a home, they give us so much more.
MacGlinty will always be a part of me and his spirit will live in my heart for eternity. I know someday I will welcome more dogs into my life, but no one will compare to the boy I grew up with. The little boy who made me who I am today.