I looked at the full bowl of dog food and sighed.
"Tilly's still not eating," I said to my husband, Chris.
It was past 10pm and time for us to head to bed, so I tipped the food out to avoid cockroaches.
We'd been searching for a dog for months and although we weren't picky we agreed that it had to be a rescue dog – there were so many animals that desperately needed a second chance, we simply couldn't justify buying from a breeder.
After learning about the charity GAP (Greyhounds As Pets), we were introduced to Tilly, who was familiar with living in an apartment like ours.
As soon as we met, it was love at first sight.
It didn't matter that Tilly was petrified of us and barely ate, I knew she was what our family needed.
Not long after bringing her home, COVID-19 struck and, before I knew it, I lost my job.
Luckily, Chris was able to keep working from home, but hearing him on the phone was a reminder that I was now unemployed and I started feeling depressed.
But through the hardest times, I had Tilly to keep me occupied.
"Let's go for a walk Tilly," I'd say and slowly she began to get excited about our outings.
We'd go outdoors at least three times a day and, as weeks passed, Tilly warmed up to us.
In the mornings, Chris and I would wake to the sight of her standing near her dog bowl, waiting to be fed.
"What a turn-around!" I cried.
But it wasn't just Tilly's health that had improved.
I no longer despaired about not having a job: her company showed me what really mattered in life.
And when the situation improved and I found a job again, Chris was able to work from home and keep looking after Tilly.
Through her, we've also connected with several other greyhound owners who live nearby.
Giving Tilly another chance when she needed it most was truly the best decision I've ever made, and I'll always be grateful to her for helping me when I needed it, too.
Thoughts of my Hungarian Vizsla, Ozskar, ran through my mind as I lay in the hospital bed, unable to move.
I'd been standing atop a ladder when I blacked out suddenly.
Next thing, I was in hospital where I had to spend the next two months, followed by more time in rehab.
Sad as it was, I could no longer look after my pup, and nor could my husband, Noel, who was battling cancer.
I'd always had dogs, so letting our pet go to someone else wasn't a decision I took lightly.
But when Noel passed away last year, I started to consider getting one again.
Maybe once I'm back from my trip, I thought.
In a few months, I was due to fly to Italy and holiday with my daughter, Nichola, who lives in New York.
Then, when COVID-19 struck, I knew I wouldn't be travelling anywhere in the near future.
My other child, Greg, lives in Melbourne which may as well have been overseas since the state was completely cut off from the rest of the country.
It was time to welcome a dog into my life again.
I put my name down on the list with Greyhounds As Pets, knowing that many of these dogs had experienced terrible lives as a result of the racing industry.
Not all my friends could understand the decision.
"You need a fluffy little lap dog," they said.
"No," I replied, "I want a big lap dog!"
Ideally, I wanted a female at least eight years old so I could keep up with it.
But when GAP called to say they had a two-and-a-half-year-old named Wendy, I knew I couldn't say no.
After driving out to meet her, my mind was made up straight away.
There was just one problem.
"You don't look anything like a Wendy," I told her, deciding to change her name to Willa.
From then on, we were inseparable.
Greg and Nichola still called me each day, but nothing beats the physical presence of Willa's company.
She needed walking regularly, which kept me active.
While I look forward to seeing both my children again one day, I'm so glad to have her in my life.
As far as I'm concerned, she's family too.
- PuzzlesTake 5 Pocket Puzzler Issue 199 Online Entry Coupon
Prizes To LoveMar 04, 2021