I don’t make New year resolutions, I never keep them .I felt guilty about not keeping them ,so these days ,I save myself that extra guilt trip by not making any at all; I am a great problem solver, clearly.

This year however, we did something which we knew would start our New Year off very differently...

She was what we had been searching for.

Her glossy white coat sprinkled with brown specks made our hearts light as we watched her play with her brother.

We had waited a long time for her.

She wasn’t a whim and she wasn’t something we ever thought we could re-home if it didn’t work out. We were here to add to our family.

We searched for years for her. We wanted her and on some level we needed her.

Our family is unique. All families are, I guess.

Our middle son has wanted her for more than half his life. Every Christmas and birthday he’d ask - “Do you think now is a good time to get a dog?”

With a younger brother and an older brother with a life limiting metabolic condition, life for us was definitely hectic.

What is it they say about the middle child? The one that is often forgotten about or overlooked?

Having a child with a terminal illness can cause you to overlook the middle, the youngest child and even yourself.

Our middle guy has his own difficulties. He has ADHD; making social issues a little bit harder for him.

A dog was really, the only thing he had asked for, for years.

He once wrote a contract, stating his responsibilities and plans for his dog, all I had to do was sign and get a dog.

He was nine years old at the time and cried his heart out when I tried once more to explain why it wouldn’t be fair on not just us but the dog, if we were to get one.

Dogs and childhood, eh? They, in my experience and my husbands, go hand in hand.

We both had childhood dogs and we both knew the value of having a dog.

“When is the right time?” He asked a few months ago.

“I don’t know, but I will know when that time comes” I tried to fob him off.

“Mammy, I think the time is now. D is 4, so he’s not a baby. I’m almost 13, so I can take the dog for walks alone and Ethan is doing so well. Please mammy, talk to dad and see if the time is nearly right”

I let his words ring in my ears and that night I began to put my years of research into action.

Finally after a few months and unbeknownst to any of our boys, we met up with the one and only ‘Lola’.

It’s funny the opinions people have when you talk about dogs; ‘Don’t get this breed”, “Don’t get a big dog”, “don’t get a small dog”, “What about Ethan? What if he hates it?” ...people seemed to think that we didn’t do any research or that we didn’t consider how Ethan would react.

Two weeks before Christmas we met her.

We fell in love instantly.

She jumped into my arms and kissed me. Her gentle nature made us question if she really was just under four months old.

We took her home and waited to surprise all our boys but especially our middle guy.

It’s nearly a month later and ‘Lola’ has settled in very well.

J , our middle guy, has stuck to his word and has kept her water dish filled, fed her when required to, walked her and is in the process of teaching her to ‘give the paw’.

Ethan doesn’t care much for her, but she tries every day to get a pet from him. She knows not to get too excited when greeting Ethan and she even knows he is the one most likely to drop food.

Ethan however, does enjoy throwing her ball and watching her run for it. His laughter is music to our ears.

The four year old, D, adores her and thinks she’s like a teddy, as she lets him cuddle her, kiss her and of course they enjoy playing together.

She has brought responsibility into our home, normal, average, boring responsibility - instead of helping me with Ethan, J now sees to ‘Lola’.

We are delighted he has a little buddy of his very own who shows him love and appreciation.

A boy and his dog, really there is no better friendship to witness.

And, to be honest, she has lifted my spirits. I am a dog lover, I always have been, .

This little lady has given me a new lease on life, an excuse to exercise , a reason to play and a way to unwind, she is literally laying on my lap as I type.

Our New Year began very differently from all our other New Year’s, this one began with more. More of everything in our lives.

More fun. More reasons to laugh. More adventures. More love. More playfulness ...more of life, average, boring, ‘normal ‘life and we are loving it!

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