“He’s the most kissed dog in the world”, says Christine, 56, about her mixed breed Billy, 16. And if she could wish for one thing in life, it would be another 16 years with her “Billy Boy” in their home in Barcelona. They enjoy every moment together at the fullest and since physical acitivity has never been his cup of tea, they cuddle in front of the fireplace instead. But only after Billy has finished his acupuncture session …
Where did you meet? How did you connect?
It was in 2006, when a friend of my husband Sixto was looking for a home for some puppies he had found. We were living in Mallorca at the time, where the animal shelters are overcrowded and dogs are put to sleep after 2 weeks. Since I was travelling back and forth between Munich and Mallorca at the time, it was not the right moment to adopt a puppy. So I said no. But one day that friend passed by and brought us this little black and white puppy anyway. So we had a dog!
Although I wasn’t entirely happy about the timing, it never crossed my mind not to take the little guy in, because I knew that otherwise his future wouldn’t have been very promising. Billy turned out to be a shy puppy, a bit clumsy at times. But he always knew exactly what he didn’t like. And that was activity! To go jogging or cycling with him was impossible. Even swimming wasn’t his thing. So he wouldn’t join in when we went out with our Mallorcan fishing boat to go swimming in the sea. Billy was happiest when his family was home, chilling.
What’s so amazing about Billy?
He is extremely loyal and faithful. Not long ago we lost our two Jack Russel girls, who were his whole world. These 3 doggies, together with our 4 cats, were an incredibly harmonious, close-knit animal family. It was extremely hard for him to lose his two ‘siblings’ within only a couple of months. At first he was very sad and looked for them everywhere. His bond with one of our cats became very close after the death of our two Jackies though. As sad as it was to see him mourning, it is so nice to experience this new, very close friendship between him and our tomcat Rübe.
How do you “understand” each other?
Our connection is intimate. He is the apple of our eye. We believe he is the most kissed dog on earth! Basically, now that we only have one dog, and he is already at a blessed dog age, everything evolves around him. We understand each other blindly. After so many years, we know each other so well that it’s not a problem that he can’t hear anymore and that his sight doesn’t work properly either. We are simply a perfectly attuned team. I have never had a dog that was lucky enough to grow so old and I enjoy every single day with him super intensely.
Do you know about his secret passions?
His passions have changed over the years. These days he loves his acupuncture sessions, which he receives regularly from our vet for his arthritis. She works with aromatherapy and Billy enjoys these sessions very much.
Is there anything he always appreciates no matter what?
Although he is a senior now, he is always up for silliness! He still loves to run his zoomies in the garden. Not so fast anymore because of his arthritis, but still full of energy and craziness.
If your dog was a person – who would he be?
That’s easy: my husband Sixto! The two of them have so much in common. They both prefer to take things slowly and carefully. But at the same time, they are super smart and highly sensitive. Sport and exercise are not really their thing. But delicious food and cosy hours in front of the fireplace are.
Why do you love him?
Because he is the most loyal and faithful being I’ve ever known.
Did your dog ever bring you closer to other people?
I think Billy has intensified the bond between me and my husband Sixto, who loves Billy as much as I do. And the connection with my stepdaughter Teresa, who is an adult now and has a dog of her own, has also intensified through our shared passion for Billy.
Where do you leave him when you have to go away for a couple of days?
A tricky issue. We actually don’t travel very often because of our animals. When we do, my mum comes from Germany to keep ‘Prince Billy’ and the cats company.
Is there anything that annoys you about Billy?
When he was younger, he had a strange way of communicating with other males. As a result, he was bitten a few times. That was a difficult time. I trained him a lot back then and it wasn’t always easy. I’m glad that now, as a senior, he no longer has any problems with other dogs.
What are your favourite things to do with him?
I love to go for a walk in the forest with Billy early in the morning, right after waking up. It’s our very personal quality time together. We walk through nature – at a slower pace than before. We enjoy the peace and the pleasant smells of nature.
Any dreams you’d like to come true with your dog?
If I could wish for anything, it would be to have him around for another 16 years.
Is Billy dog allowed in bed?
Of course he can sleep in our bed if he wants to! He usually lies by our feet and then later jumps into his dog bed next to ours. I think it is complete nonsense to think that this could lead to dominance problems. It goes without saying that he is part of our family. I cannot understand why people have a dog that only lives in the garden and is not allowed in the house. Even though it is not uncommon here in Spain and many other southern countries.
Any advice you would like to share?
I think it’s good people think very carefully about whether a dog fits into their lives or not. It is a big responsibility. A commitment over many years. A dog is a social being that wants to be near its people. It doesn’t matter how small the flat is. What matters is the amount of time you can spend with a dog. A dog with a big garden can be significantly unhappier than one that lives in a small flat. Also, I would never buy a dog, I would always adopt. Even pedigree dogs and puppies can be found in animal shelters. It is important to choose a dog that really suits you. A senior person should rather not get a dog with a great urge to move. For me, loving a dog is one of the best things in life.