Mila was born circa 2010 in Bogotá, Colombia, and from what we can tell spent the first couple of years of her life as a stray vagabond living on the streets and hustling to survive. I crossed paths with her by chance in 2012 after a boozy afternoon watching England lose to Italy on penalties and we just hit it off. The rest, as they say, is history.
For the next few years, she went everywhere with me – to work, to parties and even to kickboxing lessons in the park. For somebody who never spoke a word to me or even knew what my name was, she was able to connect with me on a level that nobody else has. In 2014 when I got the phone call that my Dad had passed away she was the only person in the world that I had in that moment and somehow knew there was something wrong with me, poking her face into mine as if to tell me that everything would be OK and I needed to pick myself up, which I did.
When I finally left Colombia to return to London, there was no question that she would be coming with me, and she ended up on a cargo plane from Bogota to Houston, then Houston to London, arriving before me. She turned my mum from a dog skeptic into a dog lover in less than 24 hours and made the suburb of Orpington her home for the rest of her life.
She warmed our hearts with her gentle nature towards people and zest for life and adventure. Her randomness, energy, clumsiness and sense of fun made us laugh on almost a daily basis and I dare say I’ve taken on board many elements of her character which have made me a better person, as I’m sure have others who knew and were close to her. The times she made me smile or brought me out of a bad mood are too many to mention. She loved humans, trains, mud, classical music and snow, and hated escalators and horses. We would never truly know her breed, her age or her whole life story but none of that mattered – she belonged to us and was unique.
Last week we lost Mila. Even though she was ill and we knew it was coming, it felt so sudden and it doesn’t feel real that she’s gone. Even in death she showed a level of strength, dignity and nobility that few humans I know could surpass. Even though we all knew how much we loved her, none of us realised it would hit us this hard.
I’m writing this for anyone who is skeptical of how strong the bond between a pet and a human can be, and how much of a hole is left in our lives when we lose them. Or for anyone who does have a pet and takes them for granted. Play with your pets – spend time with them, enjoy them and give them good lives. Remember that they might seem like just a part of your life, but to them you are everything they have and they deserve your attention and time. When the time comes for them to leave you, you will never regret having spent more time with them.
Soar high, you crazy ginger wolf. I will love and miss you forever.