Since writing my first article on loneliness, my life has undergonsomething of a dramatic change. In September, my beloved dog Ci died, aged just eight, of a pulmonary oedema. It was very sudden, with no prior warning, and he died within less than 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Even as a professional wordsmith for most of my life, I found it hard to express the sadness I felt. I live alone, apart from my dogs; they are like family to me and Ci's departure left me with a sense of loss comparable to losing a person.
There were also other consequences which I had not considered
With Ci by my side to protect me, I was quite happy to go off walking and wild camping alone in the most remote places. I still had the lovely Fleur, of course, who was a comfort, but I knew she would be more likely to lick to death any intruder than attack them as Ci would have.
Worse, I did not even have the time to gather my thoughts and lick my wounds
In a moment of madness, I had agreed to co-write a book with two other authors, Janet Holt, from Derbyshire, and Jilli Pennington from Italy. 'Take Three Birds' was going to be the story of three people who had become friends on the internet but never met in real life and were about to do so.
Because of the logistics, we had decided the meet-up would take place at my house in central France. Arrangements were made, Janet's flight (her first ever, at the age of 64 – brave lady) was booked so I had to go ahead with hosting visitors at a time when I would really have preferred to be on my own.
Ever Faithful Fleur
But a few weeks after their visit and the publication of our joint book, I had decided Fleur and I were ready to fill the gaping hole in our lives and start looking for another dog. We had a few false starts until, out of the blue, a friend posted a photo on my timeline of a border collie called Rosalie. Those eyes – utterly irresistible.
New Adorable Arrival, Rosalie (Rosie)
She was from outside my area and I don't usually approve of shipping dogs around the place when there are already too many unwanted ones in this area alone. But the rescue association wanted someone with prior border collie knowledge plus lots of time and patience for Rosalie.
Only two years old, she had spent much of her early life chained up and was nervous of everything
As a writer, I spend a lot of my time at my desk in front of my computer. I don't go out to work. My garden is fully fenced and when the weather is nice enough, I work with the door wide open to the garden so my dogs can come and go as they please.
I made enquiries, waited anxiously while I was inspected, filled in endless forms and provided proof of identity. Then, on what would be Boxing Day in the UK but is just another working day here in France, I met up with the last of the kind volunteers who had transported Rosalie in relay from her former home to mine.
It's been a week now since 'Rosie', as she is now called, came into our lives
Fleur is thrilled to have a playmate. Rosie is delighted to find a home where she is allowed to cuddle up on the sofa and sleep on my bed. She is adorable, so willing to please,so grateful for being given a chance in life. Our little family is once again complete.
I cannot stress enough how big a difference an animal can make to loneliness
The shelters are full to capacity with them. Can you find room in your heart and your home for an unwanted dog or a cat? Their constant company can make such a big difference to your life.
You can also read the first article written by Tottie on dealing with loneliness on the website.
Find out about all the books Tottie Limejuice has written here.