Fiver was a special dog – smart as a whip, an amazing sense of smell, jet black and the friendliest dog any of us had met.
It’s hard for me to remember a time in my childhood without her. She arrived into our lives when I was 5 and was a constant, welcome feature until I was 21. From swings and teepees in the back garden, to walks around the fields of the village I grew up, she was always there.
From a cuddle goodbye when I moved out of my Mum’s house to excitedly greeting me for that first cuddle through the door every time I came back to visit (it’s like she had a sixth sense of when I was arriving), she was an amazing friend to have.
We got Fiver when she was still a tiny and rather poorly pup. My mum is a big believer in adopting rescue animals, and on that fateful mid-80s visit, the whole family fell in love with her from the moment we saw her.
As children, whenever my three siblings and I introduced Fiver to anyone, we exclaim that she was the best £5 Mum ever spent! In fact, as you’ve probably guessed by now, the amount our mum donated to the shelter is also where Fiver got her name. Actually, mum donated a bit more than was asked, but Seven Pounds Fifty isn’t quite such a catchy name.
Fiver was calm and calming. She was truly a part of the family, so much so that she used to blend in and become almost invisible. I could walk through the living room where she would be sitting in front of the fire, be asked if we knew where she was and have no idea I’d even passed her!
She was also smart and quick and loved to escape. Once summer, before she’d been spayed, she twice managed to slip out under the hedge and pay a visit to the lovely scruffy farm dog half a mile down the road. Nine weeks later, a litter of puppies arrived, all of whom found happy homes around the village except one, who we could bear to part with. We named him Bentley.
It was lovely for Fiver to have a friend that wasn’t a child or a cat. Finally she had someone she could run through the fields with. As Bentley grew up and didn’t need (much) mothering anymore, they became the best of friends.
Bentley was a lovely boy, although he didn’t seem to quite inherit his Mum’s wits or sense of smell. When we would throw a stick or ball in a field, Bentley would hover looking none the wiser and leave it to Fiver to locate it. Then she would dutifully let him collect it, so that he could trot back to us as if he’d done all the work.
Most days, we would take Fiver and Bentley on what we called ‘the round trip’ – a 1.5 mile loop of countryside that took us around the fields and byways of the village where I grew up. It was always an opportunity for us to spend some time together as a family (dogs included) and I loved how much calm it introduced to the day. Whether you’re 8 or 80, there’s something undeniably positive that happens to mind and body good when walking a dog.
I loved the roundtrip too when I got older and was allowed to walk the dogs with friends. Seeing the seasons change the landscape, nodding to fellow walkers that you’d see regularly, playing game after game, throwing ball after ball.
When I started to write about my relationship with my first pet, I asked my Mum to scan in a few photos from home. I hadn’t forgotten what our pets looked like, but nevertheless I really wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that would hit when I saw them again. It’s a very difficult feeling to describe: grief, happiness, longing. She was family.
Thankfully, we had many wonderful years with our lovely dogs. Fiver was a healthy dog who lead a great life with lots of cuddles, walks and treats. When her muzzle grew grey, Bentley took over as the more active of the pair, and after she passed away, he was fussed over even more until he too grew old and grey.
Now I’m older I realise that having a pet can be a double edged sword. It’s amazing to care for and love them, to bring them into your family, but with this comes the responsibility to look after their health and well-being – not something to be taken lightly.
Of course, that doesn’t stop me having pets now that I have a family of my own! We all dearly love our guinea pig, Barbas and love to fuss him, feed him cherry tomatoes, clip his nails, brush his fur and keep an eye on his teeth.
Of course, some animals do face health challenges, and it can be a worry thinking about veterinary bills should the worst happen. That’s where Petplan Pet Insurance comes in. Their goal is to keep the nation’s pets healthy and their owners happy by providing fantastic pet insurance and peace of mind.
Petplan’s efforts span 40+ years and in that time they’ve helped millions of owners to get their beloved pets on the road to recovery from illness and injury.
Petplan understand that caring for a pet brings up some fairly unique requirements when it comes to finding an insurance policy, and one of only a few providers to see it the same way owners do – that a ‘lifetime’ policy should means just that. Petplan also pride themselves on great customer service – they know that pet owners can be at their lowest when they get in touch about a claim, so they handle the ordeal with compassion.
As Fiver was herself from a shelter, I’m also happy to highlight Petplan’s work with animal re-homing charities. They work with more than any other pet insurance provider, and have formed the Petplan Charitable Trust, which has raised more than £7,000,000 since 1994 and has been put towards making the world a better, happier and healthier place for animals to live.
So, Mum, thank you for brining Fiver home. And Petplan, thank you for reminding me what amazing furry friends I had growing up. And thanks most of all to Fiver and Bentley, for being the best dogs in the world.
This is a commissioned post for Petplan.