There's a reason we call them man's best friend (or a woman’s in my case) One day I saw an advert in my local newspaper " Dog for sale £30 ". Unbeknown to me, this ad would change my life forever. As soon as Tess and I made eye contact, we both knew it was meant to be. She came home with me and that’s when it all began. Thirteen years of willingness to provide her family members with unconditional love, loyalty and companionship down to her very last breath. In Tess’s presence, somehow nothing else in this world mattered. I was always greeted with the same enthusiasm each and every time I walked in the door. The pure love she gave, sparing no expense and asking absolutely nothing in return.
They say that dogs have the ability to sense what’s really going on and boy did Tess have that sense! There was a time in my life where I found myself in an abusive relationship. The abuser often exploited my devotion to Tess in order to control and manipulate me. He also made it clear that if I ended the relationship, I would never see my gorgeous girl again. Tess was my stable ground and I clung to her during the storm of emotional and physical abuse I faced. As the abuse continued, her increasing affection and unparalleled loyalty provided a safe harbour for me. Whenever I felt weighed down with discouragement and despair, her wet kisses, snuggles and tail wags inspired me to keep coming up for air.
In the end it was Tess that saved me from abuse. She always showed her displeasure with my abuser’s treatment of me and one day she snapped and took a chunk out of him. Normally, I don’t condone aggressiveness of any kind, but if she had not come to my rescue that day and done what she did, I would not be here now. I owe that pooch my life.
It was a very emotional and physically draining time for me, and I'm sure for Tess to. Do I leave and risk harm to me and Tess or do I stay and risk the same. After Tess bit my tormentor we did leave and stay with my parents, Unfortunately it was still in the same town as my abuser so there were times our paths would cross and when they did, Tess's whole demeanor would change, going from a happy, bouncy, trotting-along-not-a-care-in-the-world little lady to a stand-offish pooch rooted to the spot and stiff, growling until he passed by. Tess always spotted him before I did and my abuser knew to just keep walking. Eventually my abuser moved away and we didn't see him again. It was quite a few years later (Tess had already crossed the rainbow bridge) when we heard that my abuser had actually raped a woman he was in a relationship with and was awaiting trial. In hindsight, things for me and Tess could have turned out much worse than they actually did. I'll be forever grateful to Tess for giving me the strength to get out when I did. There was nothing she wouldn't do for me and I for her, the bond we had has been like no other.
I have two rescue dogs now that are my world, I don't love them any less, I just love them differently. The pain of losing her that day will stay with me a lifetime. There's not a day goes by where I don't think of her and feel thankful for the life we had together.
Walter Stoffel is a substance abuse counselor and GED teacher in correctional facilities. When not behind bars, he likes to read, travel, work out and watch bad movies. Major accomplishment : He entered a 26.2-mile marathon following hip replacement surgery and finished—dead last. The author currently lives with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (another rescue), and cat Winky (yet another rescue).
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