My First Year: Bilbo’s account of the first year as an AAA Dog

Celia, Jonathon, BILBO and DIGBY

That year went by quickly. It seems like yesterday I was walking up those stairs to the Our Special Friends office with my mum and dad, Jonathan and Celia. I had my housemate Digby with me and of course he managed to disgrace himself and embarrass us all by refusing to climb the stairs. I pretended I wasn’t with him, although secretly I felt for him really, as he was only a baby then.

Mum and Dad stayed in a room whilst I was taken off by this lovely lady who talked to me, stroked me and took me for a short walk. She was really nice, especially as she gave me some treats. We then had our photo taken, without the baby. Apparently he had disgraced himself even more by leaving his little wet messages everywhere.

It wasn’t long after this that my mum took me, with another lady called Christine, for a ride in the car to a place just the other side of Bury St Edmunds. I was looking really smart wearing my bright orange neckerchief with the ‘Our Special Friends’ logo on it. We arrived at a bungalow on top of a hill and all went in to meet the lady who lived there. She was quite old and didn’t walk very well, but she was really nice and gave me lots of cuddles, which I always enjoy. She also gave me a biscuit, which is a great bonus. After that visit I started going there regularly, sometimes with my mum and sometimes with my dad.

A little later on in the year, I was taken to another place to meet another lady, who was even older than the one I was already seeing. This new lady was quite frail so I was very gentle with her. She had a sort of support thing on because she had broken her wrist, so I sat next to her and licked her hand to make it feel better. After that first meeting I went each week with mum and dad to take this lady out for a walk. Dad pushed her in a wheelchair whilst mum held me whilst I walked alongside. When we got into Abbey Gardens it was great fun, because there were lots of squirrels around, which I got very excited about. Mum wouldn’t let me off the lead to go and chase them, but I made everyone laugh.

DIGBY Gordon

We went and had a coffee on Angel Hill and I sat next to the wheelchair whilst the lady stroked me, and fed me biscuits. It was really nice sitting in the sun watching all the people go by. Sadly, these visits didn’t last for many weeks, because the lady died. Mum says its one of those things that happen, but we brought a bit of happiness to this lady in her last weeks.

We were still visiting the first lady, but because we had time, we were asked to go and see another lady as well. She lives in Bury St Edmunds and although she’s very old, she is really on the ball and mum and dad have a great time talking to her and listening to all her memories about her life. She also spoils me with a biscuit every time I go.

So now we have two lovely ladies we visit every week. Digby has grown up a lot and earlier this year, he got an orange bandana too. Now we both go out on visits once a week. I go to one lady one week and Digby goes to the other lady at the same time. Then the following week we swap around. And mum takes me one week, and dad takes me the next.

I was a bit miffed at first that Digby has muscled in on my scene, but I’ve got used to it now and enjoy sharing our OSF duties with him. He is much better behaved than he used to be, so he doesn’t embarrass me so much. Although, having said that, dad had to take him off the OSF stand at Suffolk Dog Day last year because he was playing up a bit. Digby told me afterwards that he was very tired as he hadn’t had his afternoon nap, and there were so many dogs around he got a bit frightened. He’ll be OK when he’s as mature as I am. I forget that he’s only just turned two.

Overall, we’re really glad we met those people in the forest last year who persuaded us to join our Special Friends. We know the clients we visit really look forward to seeing us every week. All four of us, mum, dad, Digby and I all enjoy what we do and get as much out of it as our lady friends do. We tell all our doggy friends about ‘Our Special Friends’ and hopefully some of them will volunteer as well, if they can get their owners to get in touch with the office.

We’re all planning on continuing our visits for a long time to come.