Duke, an 8 week old Golden Retriever puppy.

Nicole has always been a dog lover. Her family had always had a dog, but she still yearned to have one of her own.  She was delighted when she was given an adorable Boxer puppy, named Lola, for her eighteenth birthday. Lola grew up to be everything that Nicole had wanted from a dog: loyal, loving, and a pleasure to have in her life.

When Nicole’s father retired, Lola was six years old, and full of the energy of a typical adult Boxer. By now, Nicole was working full time, and so the fact that her Dad had more free time to take Lola for walks was ideal. She loved to be taken out and about, and she became fitter than ever.

Towards the end of the summer that year, when Lola began to lose some weight, everyone thought that it was just because of her new energetic exercise regime. As the weight loss continued, and the underlying bones of her frame began to stand out, she was taken to the vet to make sure that there was nothing wrong with her. Tragically, a work-up revealed the worst possible scenario: Lola had malignant cancer and was only expected to live for another month.

She was given chemotherapy, and at first she defied the odds, returning to full, vibrant health for over three months. Sadly, just before Christmas, the weight began to fall off her again, she stopped eating and she became very weak as the aggressive cancer returned. Nicole and her family made the difficult decision to let her go, staying with her as she was given the euthanasia injection to make her passing easier.

During the initial overwhelming grief, Nicole wanted to get another puppy at once. Lola had left a huge hole in her life, and a new young life might help to fill the gap. Her family persuaded her to wait, and to take time to reflect. It was two months later, that everyone agreed that it was now the time to start again.

Meanwhile, Nicole had been planning carefully, researching the options and choosing the ideal pet for herself and her family.  The pup would be living at home with her parents: they have five children and there are already ten grandchildren. The new dog would need to be excellent with people of every age, from toddlers right up to grandparents. A Golden Retriever seemed like a good choice and Nicole than set about finding the perfect pup.

Most pups nowadays are bought via the Internet: www.donedeal.ie lists over three thousand dogs for sale at any one time. Nicole was aware of the risk of buying a pup from a “puppy farm”. She made sure that she visited the home of her chosen pup, finding out as much as possible about its background. She met the mother (a calm, obedient dog) and she saw a photo of the father. She checked the pup’s pedigree, making sure that there was no evidence of in-breeding, and checking that the pup’s ancestors had good “hip scores” (done by x-ray screening) so that there would be a reduced risk of the pup developing arthritis as he grew older.

The pup’s breeders were full of hospitality when Nicole went to collect her new pup, and she stayed for an hour and a half. She then brought the newly-named Duke to me shortly afterwards, for a full check-up. I was happy to report that he’s a high quality puppy in excellent health. Nicole has made a good start on the road of new dog ownership


  • It can be desperately upsetting when a much-loved pet dog dies
  • A new pet can help some people to recover from the grief
  • It’s always best to think carefully rather than rushing into a decision on a new dog

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