As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I hear Sir Godwin’s tail wagging. A friend told me I could expect to wake up with a lick in my face at 7am if I were to get a dog. Sir Godwin, however, patiently waits for me to awaken. To be greeted by a being that could not be happier for you to be alive is one hell of a reason to get out of bed.
It took SG a day and a half to understand that I was going to be his best friend for the rest of his life. He now follows me everywhere, quietly observing every move I make. When I go to a friend’s place, he joins. When I go to the balcony, he lies down in the sun under my chair. When I go to the bathroom, he quickly checks up on me and leaves me in privacy, only to greet me by the bathroom door a minute later.
Sir Godwin is a small, white, nine-year-old rescue dog. His former owners were either too old to take care of him, or they separated and had to get rid of him. It depends who you ask; I’ve heard different versions of the story. In short, I don’t really know much about his background - and neither does he about mine.
I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. So when my flatmate told me our contract said our new apartment allowed for pets, I contacted adoption centre MSPCA to inquire about a little black dog on their website. He was five years old, his name was Kratos. He would be the perfect companion for my runs around Sliema.
I was sent a three-page adoption form, asking about our apartment, how much time the dog would have to spend alone, and how many walks a day he would get. When I filled it in and sent it back to MSPCA, it turned out Kratos had already found a new home. I got an email saying: “We do have a beautiful dog that is 9 years old. He is very loving and friendly.” I could come visit him if I was interested. I was, so I made an appointment to meet the dog.
My plan was to meet the dog, whose name I didn’t even know at this point, and ask the shelter’s employees whether they deemed me fit to have a pet. I had loads of questions and I didn’t know what to expect at all.
I had no idea about the adoption process, but I assumed I would have to go through an interview or a background screening of some sort. You are, after all, adopting an entire being. Upon heading to the appointment, I thought: “I never even did any volunteering with dogs. Why would they trust me with owning one?”
On a Tuesday afternoon I met the old, white dog for the first time. His name was Godwin. I’d never heard of anyone called Godwin before. The employee suggested I’d change it, because it’s a weird name for a dog. He was lovely and excited, and after five minutes of playing she asked me: “So, do you want him?”
Do I want him? Of course I do. But I know nothing about taking care of a dog, I’ve never had a pet before, and surely I can’t be their ideal candidate for adopting this animal? They knew nothing about my flatmates, my finances or my personal history. For all they know, I could be a total psycho (I sort of am).
Next thing you know I’m signing Godwin’s adoption papers. I asked about the adoption process and they told me to just pick him up at my soonest convenience. Drowning in worries, I ask them if I can take him home for a week to see how it goes. They tell me that’s not possible.
A week of worries later, I’m in the passenger seat of my friend’s car on my way to Floriana to pick up my dog. He recognises me, I fill in the final forms, and they hand him over to me. That’s it. He’s mine now. I’m fully responsible for this little being.
At the time of writing, Sir Godwin (as he was knighted) has been living with us for a week, and he has completely settled into his forever home. I can’t believe I ever had the balls to ask whether I could return him after a week if it didn’t work out. A single smile from this dog makes all your worries wash away, and I can’t remember how life was without him.
Sir Godwin is an island dog that can’t swim. He is a big mama’s boy and he hates being alone. He’s very loving, super chill around people, and a little bit clumsy. Like me, he only listens to what he’s told when he wants to.
I take him for three long walks a day, with or without a friend. We meet other dogs and other people in a time where meeting strangers has become a rarity. He has become a key factor in my daily structure, and the sole reason I get out of bed as soon as I wake up.
He’s there when I feel depressed and he’s there when I’m thriving. It’s only been a week, but my life has turned upside down for this little animal - in the best way possible. I may not know the ins and outs of caring for a dog yet, but I know Sir Godwin isn’t leaving my side for as long as he lives.