When you break life down by numbers, we each get a finite tally of experiences. A set total of how many times we will go on holiday, watch the sunrise or sunset, laugh with friends over dinner, walk along the beach or savour that first sip of coffee in the morning.

Knowing that serves as a potent reminder not to fritter our lives away. To appreciate the big and small moments alike that combine to weave the rich tapestry of human existence.

The other day, though, I read something that hit me hard: “Most dogs, on average, only experience 12 summers.”

I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, tears welling in my eyes as I looked over at my collie Moose, dozing obliviously nearby in a patch of sunshine on the living room floor. 

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He is nine now and in the five years we’ve had Moose (he was a rescue dog my husband and I adopted in 2019), I have wanted his life to be filled with joyous experiences.

Some might see this as “spoiling” him, yet I find that a curious misnomer. How is wanting to make the life of another living creature as happy as possible somehow viewed as a negative?

There is nothing that puts me off a person faster than someone who says, “Oh, it’s only a dog”. That is an instant red flag. And nothing can convince me otherwise.

A story in the Washington Post last week examined the deep bond we forge with our pets. Research has shown that the loss of an animal companion can be comparable to losing a person and, in some cases, even more complicated.

It read: “Our close relationships with other people, even the most loving, are fraught; they ask us to examine our faults and shortcomings. We misunderstand each other, we hurt each other, we give and take.

“With pets, there is a simplicity to what they provide us - and what we give them - that can’t be replicated with humans. This can make losing their companionship all the more complex.”

The crux is this: while we love our parents, partners, friends and relatives, it’s often our pets that are by our sides the most as we traverse the biggest milestones, such as moving house, a new job, retirement, dealing with bereavement, getting married, divorced or growing our families.

In recent times, I have witnessed several friends face the loss of a much beloved pet. My heart aches thinking about the pain and sudden chasm of grief they must be feeling.

Within the same short spell, other friends have welcomed pets into their lives. Seeing them share photographs and talk excitedly about the new addition to their home is like a balm for the soul.

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Despite the fact he regularly acts like a playful puppy, I’m aware that Moose is now considered a “senior” dog. There are creeping signs he is getting older.

He takes a supplement for his joints and needs more beauty sleep than he once did, often napping in the car on the way home from days out - or sighing in exasperation from the foot of the bed if I stay up too late reading and his lordship wants the light out.

But Moose still throws himself into every adventure with the same verve he always has. His eyes sparkle with joie de vivre whenever he chases a ball, goes for a swim in the sea or watches rabbits frolicking in the garden from his favourite perch at the window.

Time is precious and fleeting. And I intend to make the most of this summer and every other one that I’m lucky enough to get to enjoy with my best boy.