Tess • always and forever

Hey guys! I hope you’re all well. I feel like I’ve been more personal than usual on my blog lately, and it’s not going to stop with this post I’m afraid.

If you follow me on Instagram and have for a while, you’ll know that one of the greatest loves in my life is my black Labrador/Border Collie-cross, Tess. It breaks my heart to tell you that due to her diminishing health issues, we had to say goodbye after fifteen years. Tears stream down my face typing this, as I’m sure any animal lover out there can empathise. For those of you who want to know a little bit more about Tess, then read on.

We got Tess just after my 10th birthday. Prior to getting Tess, we had Guinea Pigs. I thought Fidget, my ginger-and-white Caviidea rodent, would be a bundle of laughs… turns out, she wasn’t the cuddling kind of pet that I’d dreamt her up to be. When you’re desperate for a pet as a kid, you make all kinds of promises, right? The responsibility of cleaning out the Guinea Pigs hutch shifted over the course of about 1 year from me to my parents. Classic (sorry guys!). However, being so desperate for a puppy my entire life, I pleaded and pleaded with my parents to add a new, bouncy, cuddly puppy to our family of five. Knowing how lax and undisciplined I got about cleaning (what 9 year old enjoys cleaning?!), they made me a proposition: “Nicki, if you take care of the Guinea Pigs – cleaning, feeding, watering etc. for 6 months, we will get you a puppy”… *enter a very pleased Nicki – smirking and rubbing her hands together*. It was a deal! Knowing how lazy I got with the Guinea Pigs prior to making this deal with their nine year old, they totally didn’t think that I would do it. However, when I want something that bad, I will work my butt off to make sure I get it. NO EXCEPTIONS.

It got to about month four of our deal, and my parents knew that a promise is a promise… no going backsies for them! So, that only meant one thing… we started looking for a puppy! In the meantime, I brainstormed names. I had a list as long as my arm that I’d accumulated over the years of dreaming about getting my dream canine companion. One night, I was watching Billboard Dad (an Olsen twins movie – yes, I was obsessed with them from the age of like…4). Mary-Kate’s character name on the movie was ‘Tess’… and I LOVED it. I threw away my list and my mind my made up… my puppy (that I still hadn’t found), would be named Tess.

Eventually, after a few more months of looking, we found Tess: a tiny, fluffy ball of black fur. She was very timid, shy, and was the last puppy left in the litter. I personally don’t know how anyone could have picked any other over her… but I believe that she was left for us the entire time. On our first visit to meet our future-pup, she fell fast asleep on my Mam’s foot. At only 5 weeks old, she was all I had ever dreamed of in a dog. When she got to 8 weeks and was allowed to leave her mother, her breeder dropped her off at our home. He couldn’t bare to come in the house and had to leave because of how much he was crying; he couldn’t bare to let her go because of how much he loved her. But, he knew she was going to a loving, caring home filled with love! He knew she’d be loved forever.

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She walked into the living room and was so apprehensive at first. New people, new environment – little did she know, she’d already become the sixth member of the Elwin family.

I remember waking up the morning after her first night with us. My Mam and I walked downstairs and into the utility to be greeted by poo splattered up the walls, pee splashed all around (thankfully on laminate flooring this time), and a puppy in desperate need of a wash hahaha! After she got her first night out of the way and redecorated the utility room to suit her bowels, she was right at home.

Fast forward 8 or 9 years and Tess got cancer. Her Mam died of cancer at a very young age, so when the vets found Tess had it, they weren’t very hopeful. We wanted to go through with the operation, and she came out cancer-free, happy, lively, and as loving as ever! A year or two after that, Tess was rushed into emergency surgery. She’d developed a major growth on the inside of her womb which we didn’t know anything about – all we knew was that she wasn’t eating properly. As it turned out, we’d taken her to the vets just in time as the growth (basically a huge ball of puss – bork), would have exploded within the day. God totally saved her life there! Once again, the vets told us that it was a 50/50 chance that she’d come out of this operation alive. But, Tess loves proving humans wrong! There she came, walking out of recovery (and straight into a wall… she was still a bit out of it hahaha), with a cone around her head. We took her home, brought a mattress down and each took turns sleeping downstairs to comfort and care for her during the night.

One of my funniest and favourite memories of Tess is from one of my nights of sleeping downstairs. We had put her basket directly next to the mattress on the living room floor and made sure every night that she was comfortable, warm and calm. One night, I woke up to find her stood directly over me, looking really confused, staring right at me just watching me sleep. I clearly had my own personal creeper-stalker dog who enjoyed watching me sleep – hahaha!

Anyone who knew Tess or came into contact with her over the years always knew her as a puppy. Her temperament, her nature, her personality; she was literally an eternal puppy. No matter how many May 19th’s passed, she always embodied the bounciness, the energy, the attitude, and the nature that of a puppy. Even in her final months, she’d still be chasing me around the breakfast bar in the kitchen, or still putting into practice the skills that awarded her second place in her dog training classes that she excelled at in her puppy years.

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Tess has been there for me through a lot of things over the past fifteen years of my life. One of the main things was her helping me through my depression. It may sound funny, but she just knew. Being the incredible creations that they are, dogs can sense things; Tess always knew when I was having a terrible day during my depression. When she knew, she would come and rest her head on my leg and nuzzle her way into my arms. Another thing that she started to do was lick my feet… as funny (and possibly disgusting) as it may sound, there’s a reason behind it. Dog’s lick human feet to gather information – a humans feelings, emotions, state of mind etc. How amazing is that?! And Tess just knew. She made me feel better. She wasn’t just a pet, nor was she just a dog; she was a friend, a member of the Elwin family and one of the greatest joys and blessings of my entire life.

Tess began to lose a lot of weight and lose her luscious, beautiful, thick black fur in her final year. With numerous trips to the vets and countless tests taken, they couldn’t diagnose the cause and were therefore unable to treat her. Along with that, her hind legs started to weaken. For the first time in her entire life, she sadly began to seem her age. That brings us to today.

After everything that the Elwin 5 have been through, Tess has always been right there – to nuzzle in, to make us laugh, to play games or to lick our feet, hahaha! Losing Tess isn’t just losing a pet, an animal, a dog; today, myself and my family have lost a friend, a blessing, a loved one and a family member.

Although I am absolutely devastated with tears streaming down my face with the image of her beautiful soul leaving her lifeless body, I am filled with hope. I am believing that one day, I am going to be greeted by her wagging tail and boisterous puppy-like attitude. On that day, I’m going to get to shout with excitement, “TESSY!!! MY GORGEOUS PUMPKIN PUPPY PRINCESS!!!!!!” Until then, I will forever see her as one of the greatest blessings to my life; a one that brought me so much happiness, joy, laughter, strength and friendship.

I love you Tessy girl. You’ll always be my Baby!

nicki elise

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