Hello! My name is Matty. I am Shane’s friend. I’m only small but I’m well able to look after him. Nobody comes anywhere near him without my permission. Well, to be honest, Shane sometimes picks me up and insists that I meet someone at his door.
I am a Maltese terrier cross. That doesn’t mean I’m bad tempered – it just means that I’m not a pure bred Maltese! Long ago, before I lived with Shane, I ran away from home and got lost. Some men found me and I was taken to a dog rescue centre. They were kind at the centre but it wasn’t like being at home. My coat was in a bit of a state at that time so the staff had to shave it off. They had to put me to sleep for that job because I kept growling and biting at them.
Shane says that when he first saw me, I looked like a rat – charming! I was all skin and bone and hairless – not a pretty sight I guess. Shane loved me and I was fairly taken with him. I let him hold my lead and take me a little walk but I didn’t let him touch me. I wasn’t too sure what was going on to be honest. A couple of days later, Shane came back and took me to his house. I was quite impressed – he had a warm bed for me and I had plenty of water to drink ( I love water – lots of it) and food twice a day. Best of all, he took me out for walks a good few times a day. I found out that if I refused to toilet in the back garden I got taken for lots of walks. I guess he didn’t want a mess in the house. That routine suited me fine. I love walks.
Sometimes Shane is not very well. At those times I have to be especially good to him. I lie right next to him and won’t move away from him. I like it when he gets better again but I like to care for him too. When he’s unwell – really poorly – he STILL takes me for my walks you know. It’s a struggle for him I know but I know he likes to please me like I like to please him.
At Christmas, I nearly ruined one of his soft decorations. He’d put it on the arm of a chair – just where I could reach it – so I thought it must be a present for me to play with. The best game ever was getting that toy between my teeth and shaking the living daylight out of it but ooops!, Shane came back in the room and he was not best pleased to see his decoration swinging about like a clock’s pendulum and me growling away with the pleasure of giving the thing a good shaking. I had to drop it and see it put way out of my reach. My game was over, what a shame.
A few days later the postman – now he’s another story, I can’t stand him nor the letters he brings -I tear them apart given half a chance. The letters I mean – I haven’t been able to touch the postman! Anyway, that day he had a parcel for Shane. It turned out it was for ME actually. A parcel of special toys for dogs. I had no interest in the ball and so on but I loved the soft toys. Shane ‘s good at playing tug of war with me with those toys. Can you see my lion in the picture? I’ve put it near Shane and am waiting for him to play with me. To make sure he notices, I growl a bit…..and then a bit more and a bit louder. Sometimes it takes a bark as well and then he’ll play. I love it. It has a squeaky bit in it too and I know exactly how to bite the right area for a squeak.
I love my home with Shane and I know that he loves sharing his home with me too.
Matty is brilliant company. He’s only a tiny little thing but he guards the house really well. No-one is allowed in without a loud bark, a deep growl and a good sniff from him. If he counts you as his friend, he puts his front paws up and waits for a bit of fuss. If he’s unsure of you he’ll growl to warn you to keep away from his space. If you happen to be in overalls or wearing a high-vis jacket, then, given half a chance he’d really attack you!
When I return from time away from him, he gives me the greatest welcome possible. He jumps clear off the ground and yelps until I pick him up. He licks my hands – my face would get the same treatment if allowed! He’s so glad to see me and that makes me feel really good.
For anyone living alone, especially with mental health issues or in withdrawal, I would recommend a dog. A dog loves you unconditionally. He won’t be asking how you are but knows instinctively when you’re struggling. He won’t let you suffer alone – he’ll stay with you through thick and thin. He will amuse you with his antics and insist that you take a bit of exercise!
Matty has certainly made a big difference to my life – changes for the better. He’s given me a reason to get up in the morning even when I feel dreadful. Having him to care for gives me a reason to push myself to feel better. We really are the best of friends! Shane