The Greatest Gift; A Passionate Dad’s Tale

As part of the journey of writing my book and self-[ublishing I have shared parts of my story with the media and publications both in Australia where I live and overseas.  This is a story I had published in US on-line and print magazine “You And Your Family”

You and Your Family Magazine logo

For most people, the morning of October 22, 1999, was just another day at the office, but I had been preparing for that special day my whole life. I woke up feeling incredible excitement. By the time the day would end, I would never see life the same way again. Driving to the hospital, I began thinking about how all this had started four long years before.

As a freelance cameraman, I traveled the world. It wasn’t unusual to arrive home from a trip to Africa only to be back on a plane the following week to Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines. My wife, Jules, was used to my being away for work, but my being away meant she often was alone.

So we decided to get a puppy. We both loved animals and wanted a dog that would be great with kids. Children were in the bigger picture, and this seemed like good preparation. We decided on a golden retriever, located a breeder and arrived to find only one puppy left out of a litter of nine.

It was love at first sight. Six-week-old Molly came home in a red bucket and now, 14 years later, she sits at my side as I write these words. Jules calls her our firstborn. I feel the same way.

A six-week-old puppy will teach you patience, responsibility and unconditional love. It takes a lot of effort to train and care for puppies, but the rewards are many as they grow. Someone once said that taking care of the outside of a dog is good for the inside of a human.

Molly had a blessed life. We walked her nearly every day, and she often slept on the couch with Jules while I was away. She received plenty of love and attention, and was treated as part of the family. During the day and sometimes at night, she slept outside in the front courtyard where she could peer at the world passing by.

One night when she was about five, I forgot to close the gate behind me after a hectic day at work. In the morning, to my horror, I realized Molly wasn’t there. I couldn’t see her from my bedroom window. I rushed outside with all sorts of thoughts running through my head. What if she had been run over or taken by a passer-by?

Fortunately, I had no need to panic. As I got closer to the gate, there she was — sitting next to the letter box, still guarding the house. She had been there all night. From that day on, we never closed the gate again. Some people ask why she doesn’t run away. My response is always the same: Where is she going to go?

I realized something special that day: If you make your home the most enjoyable, loving experience possible for those who live there, they will never leave you. Molly is free to go whenever she wants. She is her own free spirit. I don’t remember the exact day Jules rang me from work sounding upset. Things had been building for some time. Her job had started to get to her. All she wanted to do was be a mum. She loved kids, and kids loved her. She hated her job and wanted to quit. I suggested she leave straight away. When she arrived home from work that night, she never returned.

As time passed, we talked about having a family. A young healthy couple, we were quite relaxed about the possibility of falling pregnant right away. After a couple of failed attempts, Jules began her search into the world of fertility support. It’s amazing just how many people have an opinion about how to become pregnant. “Eat this, drink that, stand on your head, take three of these twice a day, play this song and wear these … but only on a full moon.”

Both of us had all the usual medical checks and were told no biological reason prevented us from having children.

Read the full article here on You And Your Family published online and in print in the US in July 2015.

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