’Til death do us bark

We had a bow-wow of a wed­ding for my pre­cious pups Flossie and Boy!

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Maleka Clarke, 38

Hid­ing be­hind my 13-year-old son, our labradoo­dle Boy, 7 months, peered at the new­est mem­ber of our fam­ily. It was Fe­bru­ary 2018, and I’d just brought home Flossie, 4 months old. A gor­geous, black pure-bred poo­dle.

But our strag­gly farm dog was not im­pressed. Turn­ing his back, he sulked on the sofa.

‘You’ve ru­ined his bach­e­lor pad,’ my part­ner, Adam, 50, joked with me.

‘He’ll be mutts about her in no time,’ I pre­dicted. And I was right. Just three days later, Boy and Flossie were in­sep­a­ra­ble.

They’d spend hours to­gether on doggy dates, chas­ing each other round the gar­den.

Boy even taught Flossie to walk up the stairs. He rushed to her side if ever she cried. Adorable!

Most days, they’d come to work with me at the as­sist­edliv­ing home, where I was Di­rec­tor of Nurs­ing, here in, Ver­mont, USA.

The res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies loved play­ing with the pups.

In June, I was on a cof­fee break when my col­leagues and I got chat­ting.

Su­san, 40, was the Mu­sic and En­gage­ment Su­per­vi­sor at the home, and Cameron, 22, Head of Vol­un­teer Out­reach – they loved hear­ing all about my dogs’ lat­est ad­ven­tures.

‘I think it might be time Boy made an hon­est woman out of Flossie,’ I grinned.

‘You’re barking mad!’ Su­san laughed.

But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. My pups were head-over­heels for each other.

We just needed to help them seal the deal.

‘We could have the wed­ding here, and in­vite the ther­apy dog char­ity,’ Cameron said.

‘I could work with the res­i­dents on the mu­sic,’ Su­san of­fered.

Soon, all the home’s res­i­dents and staff had launched them­selves into plan­ning the pup-tials.

But one ob­sta­cle lay in the way... It seems Flossie was in heat.

Not keen on the idea of look­ing af­ter a lit­ter of pups as well as their loved-up par­ents, I did ev­ery­thing I could think of to keep Boy and Flossie apart.

Even pop­ping a pair of

Res­i­dents and staff helped plan the pup-tials

knick­ers on young Flossie, as a makeshift chastity belt!

Just two months to go un­til the big day, I dropped by the of­fice to pick up some­thing.

I left my son in the car to su­per­vise keep­ing the dogs apart.

I sup­pose I was gone for less than five min­utes.

When I climbed back in, Flossie was snug­gled up with Boy in the back seat. Hmm...

Within weeks, Flossie’s mid­dle grew thicker. Then, in Au­gust, the vet con­firmed our sus­pi­cions.

Our poo­dle pooch was go­ing to be a mummy.

Now the wed­ding plans seemed more im­por­tant than ever.

‘Our Boy’s go­ing to make an hon­est woman of Flossie!’ I laughed to Adam when I got back home. ‘Looks like it’s go­ing to be a shot­gun wed­ding,’ Adam chuck­led, amused. Two weeks later, a nurse came tear­ing down the cor­ri­dor to find me at work. ‘Check your phone!’ she squealed. Con­fused, I pulled it from my pocket. The screen was full of missed calls from Adam. And a photo of a tiny, squirm­ing puppy. Flossie had gone into labour! I bun­dled Boy and Tris­tan into the car and ar­rived just in time to see her give birth to the last three of seven pup­pies. ‘At least we don’t have to worry about her fit­ting into the wed­ding dress now!’ I laughed. The night be­fore the big day, I stayed up till 11pm, sewing a white tulle wed­ding skirt. ‘The things I do for your par­ents,’ I mur­mured to the tiny pup­pies, snooz­ing soundly by my feet. And, on the af­ter­noon of 29 Septem­ber 2018, Boy stood next to me in the home’s liv­ing room, wear­ing his bowtie and wait­ing for his bride.

The room was filled with flow­ers, dog toys and cup­cakes.

And, milling around among the 80 guests, hu­man and ca­nine, were the happy cou­ple’s seven pup­pies.

When the wed­ding march sounded, Tris­tan hap­pily walked Flossie down the aisle.

She was a vi­sion in white, in her homemade skirt and a veil bor­rowed from a teddy bear.

Af­ter a short cer­e­mony, Boy and Flossie sealed their union with a lick, then munched

through spe­cial doggy treats.

Guests then ser­e­naded the happy cou­ple with a song. He’s got the whole world in his paws...

The new­ly­weds joined in the re­cep­tion fes­tiv­i­ties, and shared their first ball chase as hitched hounds.

Of course, I’ll be the first to ad­mit that my gor­geous crit­ters are pam­pered pooches. They’re worth it, though! Their doggy wed­ding was the high­light of my year.

I loved it so much, I’m al­ready plan­ning the first an­niver­sary!

Flossie was a vi­sion in white, wear­ing her skirt and veil

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