Angel dog – one sniff and I was saved
Lying on my bed, my eyes full of tears, I felt a pressure next to me as my Labrador, Tia, jumped up beside me. She sighed and snuggled down against my side. I reached out a hand and stroked her black fur. Instantly, I felt my mood lift slightly.
‘Thanks, Tia,’ I murmured softly.
My husband Mark and I hadn’t planned on getting a dog, but a local farmer’s Labrador had unexpectedly produced a litter of puppies, and we’d agreed to take one on. Tia was adorable – a bundle of black fur with brown, soulful eyes – but the puppies had been born under a bush, as is the way of rural dogs, and at first, I couldn’t even cuddle her. She wasn’t used to being handled by humans, and would tremble in fear.
But she quickly got used to me, and would wag her tail and lick me lovingly whenever she could.
Mark watched both of us fall in love with one another.
‘Tia has come into our lives at just the right time!’ he said – and he was right. Even though we’d been married for 10 years, we’d tried and failed to start a family. I suffered from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and we couldn’t conceive a baby naturally.
We’d bought a huge plot of land on which to build a house. We’d hoped we'd be able to fill it with children. But, sadly, it just didn't work out as we'd planned.
Three years earlier, in 2003, we’d started IVF. By the time Tia came into our lives, we’d undergone three attempts and every single one of them had failed.
I’m a tough cookie, but there were times I’d cry and cry. Sometimes it was the hormones from the IVF drugs affecting my mood. At other times, I was filled with despair.
Whenever Tia spotted I was having one of my down days, she’d put her head in my lap or push my hand for an ear rub. She always made me smile, snapped me out of my dark mood.
Over the following 18 months, we went through another two rounds of IVF. Each time, when I started injecting myself with the drugs to produce eggs, Tia never left my side. It was as though she knew she needed to help keep me calm and relaxed.
Mark and I argued a lot when I was taking the fertility-boosting drugs. It was inevitable – the drugs played havoc with my moods, made me tired and irritable. And trying to get pregnant was putting a lot of pressure on our marriage.
Poor Tia hated the arguments. You could almost hear her pleading, 'Mummy, Daddy! Please stop rowing. I love you both and I know you love
My dog Tia was sent to save my life Neelam Stocker, 47, from Bath Tia always cheered me up when I felt low
one another too!' If we didn't stop, Tia would find a way to distract us. She’d learned how to open door handles as a young puppy - so she’d jump up and open the door! Before she trotted out, she’d fix us both with a disappointed look! ‘It’s never going to happen, is it?’ I said to Mark one day. ‘We’re never going to have a baby.’ ‘I don’t think so,’ he agreed, sadness in his eyes. We decided to stop the fertility treatment. I was heartbroken, but Tia was my rock. As the years went by, I came to realise that we had Tia and that was good enough for both of us. In 2014, my IVF was long over, but I felt incredibly tired all the time. Mark and I were busy renovating the house, but I just didn’t have the energy to pick up a paintbrush. I’d put on a bit of weight around my tummy and
made a note to cut back on my visits to the treat drawer!
One day, I was lying on the sofa with Tia next to me, when she began to paw at my stomach.
‘Stop that,’ I said, pushing her gently away.
But she kept doing it, every time she got the chance – pawing and sniffing round my tummy.
She'd constantly sniff around my abdomen, too. It actually made me feel paranoid. ‘Do I smell?’ I asked Mark. But later that day, Tia's behaviour went into overdrive.
With her paw, she kept pushing me back on the bed. It was very forceful. In the end, I got annoyed with her and told her off.
But she wouldn't have any of it. Tia insisted on pushing me back on the bed and sniffing my tummy.
Within five minutes, I was in excruciating pain. I screamed for Mark's help.
He took one look at me and called an ambulance.
I was rushed straight to hospital. The medics discovered I had a huge growth on my ovary and it had twisted. It was the size of a small rugby ball, apparently!
I was immediately operated on to remove the tumour and my ovary with it. I was in so much pain when I came around that I was put on morphine for the first time ever.
I dread to think what would have happened if I had lifted a heavy power tool while renovating our home. The tumour probably would have burst.
Tia really did save my life. I truly believe she was sent to us especially to help me.
Whether it was angels, spirit, or something else, someone ‘up there’ had been looking out for me. They sent Tia to me just when I needed her most.
She came into my life to teach me about love, to make me whole again.
She’s always been there for me. We have such a strong bond, it’s like a psychic connection. She knows me better than most people do!
And, in a funny sort of way, I got my wish.
She not only saved my life but Tia is my child!