Settling in to the long drive, I knew the trip would be worth it.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’d wanted to own one particular type of dog – a Samoyed. Captivated by their beautiful white fur and gentle nature, I’d vowed to get one as soon as I had my own place.
Now I was 19 and off to pick up a gorgeous little ball of fluff. Arriving at the house, I’d already decided I was going to have a girl and name her Aurora after the Southern Lights. When I set eyes on her, I fell in love, but the owner had a few more pups to nd homes for. ‘Why not have a girl and a boy?’ she joked.
‘Why not?’ I said, unable to resist.
Calling him Arthur, he was just as gorgeous. Back home, reality set in. Eight weeks old, my cute little teddy bears were hard work! Toilet training was exhausting and their fur needed lots of care.
Then I started working as a dog groomer, and also fostered rescue dogs, wanting to share our happy home with neglected animals. By now, I was with my partner Aaron, 25, who shared my love of dogs.
When I found out I was pregnant in December 2015, I was over the moon, and Aurora seemed to sense something was different about me.
That July I got a call to say Aurora and Arthur’s uncle had fathered a litter of pups. ‘We need homes for two of them,’ their owner said.
Not hesitating, Aaron and I went to pick up Shimmer and Sebastian.
Four dogs and a baby! I thought, but I knew we’d be fine.
They’d lie beside her protectively on her play mat, and if she cried they’d bound over to cheer her up. As she started to crawl, they’d follow her around. Then, in June 2017, we had a surprise.
Seeing a doctor, it turned out I was 18 weeks pregnant, so our bubs would be just 11 months apart.
‘We can do this,’ Aaron assured me.
We’d just need to be organised and work together as a team. When Ruby came along, the dogs were just as intrigued by her.
But they were still busy with Layla – in fact they were teaching her to walk! Trying to stand, Layla would pull herself up on their fur. They let her gingerly totter alongside them, using them for support while Aaron and I cheered her on.
Soon, Layla was tearing around with the pooches, and drinking her milk with them when they ate.
When she was 14 months old, she spent so much time with the dogs that she even started barking.
‘Woooof, woof!’ she’d say, chatting away to Aurora.
‘She thinks she’s a pup!’ I laughed. ‘I wish I knew what they were saying!’
And if I ever can’t tell which dog is which, Layla always knows instantly.
Now 11 months, Ruby is learning to walk, so Layla, 22 months, is showing her how to hold on to the dogs like she did.
Although fond of her furry siblings, Ruby is more interested in what her big sister is up to.
Life with four Samoyeds, two bubs and our rescue pet guests is jam-packed and tiring. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Read the full story in this week's issue of that's life!