My Furry Friend and I – Mr. Mango
This is a story about the time when my true love, a furry friend, became a big part of my life. He was quiet, a little malnourished and not at all what I had in mind when it came to owning a dog.
In June 2010, my then boyfriend Simon took me to seek out a furry companion because the need for unconditional love was vital for me as an international student. At that time, being unable to understand a grown man who didn’t like to shower before and after work, having a fur baby was the right decision.
In southeast Asia we usually learn self-care from a very young age. The cross-culture conflict caused me severe stress and anxiety to the point where I was diagnosed with depression.
Years afterwards, another grown man I was seeing at the time, who still lives with his mom now, had an affair with a mutual acquaintance while I was completing my diploma.
Needless to say, scoring several distinctions in my exams made him feel very offended. He said it wasn’t as important as his law degree – which he never practiced. I may have not known much back then but trying to love all the wrong people can be a very devastating experience.
This is also why domestic pets have a way of helping us cope with the daily struggles of everyday living. They really do make us better as people.
First love – eventually
So, Simon and I drove over to the RSPCA on a Sunday morning. We were full of uncertainty but had high hopes of adopting a Rottweiler. To my delight, it was love at first sight for me because he was such a cute cross breed puppy. Plus, he had the protective eyes that someday could ward off thieves.
As we were about to adopt the furry companion of my dreams, the volunteer pointed out that he was not ideal for me because we lived in an apartment. Because he would grow into a medium sized dog, authorities wouldn’t allow him to live in an apartment.
The volunteer said that we would have to choose from the small dog section of the yard. Feeling utterly shattered and heartbroken, I half-heartedly walked through to the area where many yapping small breeds sounded quite desperate for a good home.
I remember clearly seeing this little furry but bony Jack Russell Maltese who immediately stood on his two back legs against the gate.
A quiet but confident furry friend
He looked happy to see me although he could probably sense I wasn’t nearly as excited. His selling point was he wasn’t yappy or noisy, rather relaxed and reserved. A bit like me on a good day and not that he wasn’t cute, but as you can imagine my heart was set on the other puppy. So, I felt I needed more time to process my mixed feelings.
His name at the shelter was Rodger which made him a bit less appealing to me. I remember thinking to myself “you would need a much better name, buddy”.
There was another person eyeing this puppy as well, admiring his white coat and the orange markings in his pointy ears.
However, I could see that the little fella was more eager to meet me and my competitive “I saw him first” instinct was setting in.
Telling Simon I was going to need a minute to think things through and have some fresh air I went back to the reception area.
After finishing my drink of water by the RSPCA reception area, a box full of newborn kittens was brought in. Just as one of them was crawling towards me, the volunteer came in and took them away. They weren’t vaccinated or up for adoption yet, I was told.
The whole experience at this stage felt very disappointing as I made my way back to see that malnourished white furry pup one last time. Simon even said that we could come back again the following weekend if I hadn’t felt for any of the smaller breeds.
That’s when my rational and pragmatic mind kicked in. Remembering that we were here to adopt a companion to save. We hadn’t come all this way to go home without one.
He chose me
So, having made my decision I told the volunteer I’d like to adopt that puppy at the end of the carriage gate that kept looking at me. To my delight they agreed to let me take him home.
Afterwards I believed he had “chosen me”. As soon as the back gates were opened, he came running to me like we were long lost pals. It was at that moment that true love was ignited between a girl and her best friend.
Still recovering from the two earlier disappointments, I held him and knew right away he had the love I needed to heal. 10 years later, I know that adopting my late dog Mr. Mango was the best decision, and we had the greatest journey together.
Coming home in the car he was very timid and a little scared of my fiery personality. (I was probably having an animated debate with Simon about something.) Nevertheless, in the first few days of learning his ways and making him feel at home, he would go to sleep listening to Ava Maria orchestra.
As his new mom I had made all the preparations for him to have a safe and warm environment. I just hoped that my colourful personality wouldn’t overwhelm him.
Loved by everyone
We had many flatmates who, while renting with us, would shower him with affection. Our friends would volunteer to pet sit him or find reasons to suggest I go on a short holiday.
Whenever familiar people met me on the street they would ask, “How’s Mango?” and my reply was, “Yes I’m doing fine too, thanks for asking. Mango is home taking a well-earned nap on my bed as I go pay the house rent for him.”
Everywhere we were it was Mango and I. My friends would call me “Mango’s mum”. Even at the airport, the sign held up by my friend read “Mango’s mum”.
He made me a far better person in my young adult life. With him around, waking up in a stranger’s guest room was a thing of the past that only took place in my twenties after a night around town.
My friends back then were people who only came along for a good time but disappeared during the growth period into adulthood. Now in my thirties with Mango, my emotional needs were met. He was in my heart and still is in my memory.
Lockdown without Mango
Three years have passed, lockdowns have come and gone. Sadly, I made a tough decision to have him put down before the global pandemic turned everything upside down. I would have hated to have dragged him around while moving back to Sydney from Melbourne at the start of the crisis.
My fur baby was so ill with arthritis that he was unable to feel from his waist down. More than that I chose to suffer the loss of him, than have him suffer the pain of being immobile.
Vets were saying that he was in the early stages of the condition, and that it wouldn’t get any better even with operations. So the process of long recovery plus the pain and discomfort for my fur baby would be something to consider.
As I held him and soothed him, I felt numb speaking to him one last time on 19th July 2019, just a day before my birthday. Standing at the vet’s table holding him as she put him to sleep, something in me died with him. I went into a complete meltdown as the doctor held my hands.
She was very patient and knew the pain I was feeling. Exiting the doctor’s office by myself, everyone was quiet at the reception.
Not everyone was so understanding
But a young man in his mid-20s had no sympathy for the fact that I had just had to have my dog put down. He looked at me with eyes full of hate and disgust, clearly furious with me. As if it was my fault that he felt uncomfortable listening to my meltdown.
I figured that it was his level of emotional immaturity, and it had nothing to do with me. He reminded me of all the bad people I’d encountered before meeting Mango and that I was now going to have to cope without him.
However, from that day on no matter what challenges or disastrous life events took place, nothing could shake me.
The day Mango was put to rest, I was also at the end of my final stages into maturity where a big change was to take place. For me to finally embrace adulthood and make tough critical decisions, I had to let go of my dearest best friend.
Moral of the story
You may have to learn about dealing with people and difficult situations by yourself without a beloved furry friend being there to comfort you. There is no doubt, however, that the support of a pet can make everything better.
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