Emma Hillier Photography Blog » Photographer based in Liverpool, North West, England

Dear Dolly

“No Matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich.”
– Louis Sabin
dog photography

Last month we had to say goodbye to our beautiful, spotty girl.

She had been poorly for a few months after major surgery on her spine had left her unable to walk. With physio and hydrotherapy we were optimistic that she would regain the use of her legs. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and when her mum noticed a lump in her cheek we feared the worst. The cancer grew rapidly and left her mum no choice but to make the decision to let her go. She was just too weak to fight it.

Dolly came into our lives nearly ten years ago when I lived with my best friend Vicky. I had decided to look for a dog after Vic had gone on about wanting to get one for months. I took a trip to the RSPCA without saying anything, in the hope of finding a small dog that I could surprise Vic with for her birthday. As I walked around the rescue I spotted a couple of small scruffy pups, one I remember was called Elvis and he was really cute but not quite right. Then I saw this beautiful but painfully thin 12-18 month old Dalmatian sitting in a cage, not barking like the other dogs, she looked defeated. I asked to meet her and was told she was quite ill with kennel cough and was seriously underweight. I knew Vic would love her but with the complications of her being so ill I couldn’t make the decision alone, I had to tell Vic. We arranged a meeting and she fell in love straight away, just as I had done. We were told she was so ill that if we took her home she might not make it. There wasn’t much of a discussion, the way we saw it, it was better to take her home and try to get her well again than to leave her in a cold cage with very little human contact.

When we arrived home with Dolly she was very fearful, choosing to sit in the dining room on her own rather than with us in the living room. We left her to settle in, not wanting to push her as she had obviously been through a rough time in her short life. Eventually she started to warm to us and one of the first things she did to show she was feeling more at home was to nick a piece of pizza we had left in reach of thieving doggy paws!

Over the coming months she started to come out of her shell and put on some weight. We started to see what a wonderful dog she was. She loved everyone she met and was gentle and patient with children who often surrounded her in the street because seeing a Dalmatian when you’re five is the best thing ever! We took her on lots of adventures, she loved playing with other dogs (but not greyhounds for some reason!) she loved going to Crosby beach and up to Staveley on holiday. She attracted a lot of attention wherever she went and if I had a penny for every time someone asked us “where are the other 100?” I’d be very rich!

Anyone who has had a dog will know how much of your heart they take up, they become a part of the family, they become your baby. They love you unconditionally, will sit and listen to you when you need a moan, offer a shoulder to cry on and give you something to get up for in the morning when you really just want to stay in bed and hide from the world. Dolly did all of those things and so much more.

She really was one of a kind and one of my favourite things about her was how she was with my dog Cooper when he came along three years ago. She treated him like you would an annoying little brother! He adored her but she acted like she hated him. She loved him really though. One time when we were in Stavely we walked into a pub and two Jack Russels who were at the bar lunged towards Cooper, growling at him. Dolly came from behind us and flew at them to protect Cooper and tell them to back off! She might have thought he was an annoying little shit but he was her annoying little shit!

Last month we were given the devastating news that the spotty one had an aggresive tumour in her gum and nothing could be done for her. Vic decided to take her home for the weekend so Dolly could spend her final few days with family, being made a fuss of, getting fed some tasty treats such as pizza and steak and taking little trips to New Brighton and Crosby beach one last time. At Crosby we sat in the boot of the car watching the birds and the sea, eating ice-cream and cookies while Dolly barked at passing dogs! The date was February 14th and it seems fitting that her last full day with us was Valentine’s Day as she was loved so much by everyone who met her.

I was dreading the Monday morning when the vet was due to come to the house, I cried all the way there in the car. When I arrived though I was surprised to find everyone in fairly good spirits, calm and smiling on the bed. It was important to Vic that we all tried to be strong for Doll so she would be relaxed. We all snuggled up on the bed, gave Dolly lots of kisses and cuddles and told her we loved her, we even managed to have a bit of a laugh and a joke.

When the time came to say goodbye it was all very peaceful. As upsetting as it was to watch our girl slip off to sleep we all knew that it was the best thing for her and knowing she was no longer in pain was a small comfort.

Vicky, my best friend, you amaze me on a regular basis but the strength you showed that day was something else. Dolly couldn’t have asked for a better mum. I hope I can give Cooper the same wonderful life you gave Doll. I love you xx

Dolly Collins, I miss you so much, you have left a hole in all our hearts that will never be filled. Rest now spotty one xx
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  • Andrea E - Oh Emma… what a beautiful and yet heartbreaking post …. Dolly was so lucky to have you all in her life and her in yours … obviously much loved….what dog could ask for more xReplyCancel

  • Sandy - Ah Emma such a poignant post beautiful images a wonderful tribute to Dolly’s life with her loved onesReplyCancel

  • Ayesha - Oh Emma, the tissues were definitely needed. What a beautiful post. RIP Dolly. xxReplyCancel

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