As soon as I saw him I knew I was in trouble. Because as soon as I saw him I loved him. I had wished for this exact moment ever since my first night alone in the eerily quiet volunteer house. I had literally dreamt of him. I had even had conversations with people about how happy he would make me. I heard him calling the night before I met him, but thought I must be imagining it because I wanted it so much. And then the next morning, my wish came true. I was sitting in my garden feeling woefully homesick when he appeared, terrified, defenceless and completely alone. Instantly he stole my heart and all I wanted to do was nurture and care for and protect him. I knew that like me, he would not receive a warm welcome from many locals – whether it be the dog-hating neighbours who would poison him or the feral cats and mongeese that would literally eat him for dinner.
In those first few hours the only thing that would calm him was snuggling up in my lap. So I sat with him, knowing full well I would be bitten by fleas and most likely peed on but willing to give him whatever he wanted to feel safe. He needed me for reassurance, comfort, food, survival. But I needed him too, in order to rediscover the kind, soft, giving side of myself I was secretly starting to think may have disappeared forever.
For the first time since arriving here, I knew I could give freely and he would take only what he needed – nothing more, nothing less – and give endless joy and love in return. As I dote on him, come to his whimpering call, play games with him, clean up his many messes, feed him constantly and cradle him to sleep, I realise I would do anything for this little creature. I know that sooner or later “anything” will include letting him go, giving him to a Jamaican family and saying goodbye forever rather than putting him through the trauma of Australian quarantine.
But for now I am simply overwhelmingly grateful that fate or luck or pure random chance conspired to allow Buddy to wander into my backyard. I called him Buddy after my favourite Christmas movie, Elf – because this little puppy is a little ray of sunshine in this big, wild world and he is the ultimate proof that Christmas wishes definitely do come true.