When my beloved black labrador, Wellington, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was determined to make the most of time he had left…
By Amy Loveless, 39, from Taunton, Somerset
I picked up the tennis ball and hurled it as far as I could along Berrow beach, Burnham-on Sea. As I watched Wellington, my black labrador, bound after it, I couldn’t help but smile.
‘Well done, boy,’ I said, ruffling his fur, as he dropped the slobbery ball at my feet. ‘You’re still full of beans, aren’t you?’
At 13-years-old, it had been no dog’s life for my pampered pooch. Welly had enjoyed a completely clean bill of health – until July when our lives changed forever.
‘We’ve found a tumour in his hind leg,’ the vet told me after an MRI scan. ‘I’m afraid it’s malignant.’
Tears welled in my eyes, as I looked at my old boy, tail wagging. Why now?
The vet suggested amputation but I didn’t want to reduce Welly’s quality of life in his doggy ‘golden’ years, so instead, we left the surgery armed with canine chemo capsules.
My precious pooch’s life expectancy was fairly short and I was determined to make the most of the time he had left.
There wasn’t a moment to lose, so I set about compiling a bucket list of Welly’s favourite things.
Weekly steak dinners, a Christmas holiday to the New Forest, meet Simon Cowell… I chuckled as I read the zany list back to an expectant Welly, who sat there happily wagging his tail.
Next on the list was something we all want in our later years, someone to grow old with. Welly had a long-term lady labrador friend called Elsa, who he’d met two years ago at the doggy hydro clinic I run.
Also an old girl who suffers from arthritis, it was puppy love at first sight for Elsa and Welly, who labr-adored each other.
Sharing a love for swimming they’d go for doggy dates in the pool as well as camping trips and frequent dips in the sea, which is where their romance really blossomed.
‘What do you reckon, boy? Is it time for you to make an honest woman of Elsa?’ I smiled, nuzzling into his fur.
So after chatting with Elsa’s owner, Susie, it was settled and I broke the news to him. ‘Welly, we’re getting you hitched!’
We decided on a local beach wedding at the pair’s favourite spot, Berrow beach. The date was set and the invites were sent out to over 20 guests.
The turnout was remarkable as the sun beamed down on the two love-sick pups. Elsa looked beautiful in her veil, while Welly looked suitably dapper in his tuxedo and real flower corsage.
The two had a ball as they paraded around in front of the guests, lapping up the limelight. No details were spared during the ceremony, which was performed by my husband Michael and led by 16-year-old flower dog, Millie.
‘I promise you Elsa, that I will be a faithful companion, that we will share the relationship throughout the remaining seasons of this life together, that we will plod together in all weathers and will try and stay strong enough in my woof health to enjoy another camping trip with you,’ I read out Welly’s vows as he barked along enthusiastically.
Susie then recited Elsa’s special words and the pair exchanged collars with each other’s name engraved on them.
Next came the ‘biting’ of the dog-friendly wedding cake, followed by a barbecue sausage dinner which all the guests tucked into.
I was so proud of my precious pet as he tied the knot. They say every dog has its day, and now Welly’s had his, he can live out the rest happily ever after.