The dog in our family is Bailey. He's a 10-year-old English Springer Spaniel who thinks he's still 10 months old, jumping excitedly at visitors and chasing rabbits at every opportunity.
I see Bailey a lot. He lives with my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece in a house two minutes' walk away from me. I look after Bailey when they're on holiday, and I say hello to him at the unit where I have a studio above my brother-in-law's motorbike workshop. Sometimes I take Bailey for a walk at lunchtime.
One week ago Bailey fell ill. He stopped eating, started vomiting and lacked energy. You could see it in his eyes; something was seriously wrong.
My brother-in-law took Bailey to a vet. The vet put Bailey on a drip, tested his blood and X-rayed him. He stayed in overnight. We held our breath and waited for news.
Bailey took a turn for the worse in the morning. The vet decided to operate. My brother-in-law, normally chatty and positive, was quiet. He looked tired and worried. "That's the thing about having a dog," he said, "you get used to him being there."
My sister and her kids were worried too. She showed me a photo of my niece clutching the portrait I'd drawn of Bailey. "She was hugging it," said my sis. I was touched.
The operation was a success! The vet removed a nut shell that was blocking his stomach. It hadn't shown up in the X-ray. Silly Bailey, why did you eat that?!
Bailey came home the next day. He was a bit drowsy and uncomfortable, but he was well. His eyes were big and bright again.
We were massively relieved. Family and friends had sent lots of messages of support, and the good news was shared with them.
The operation confirmed something I already knew; Bailey is one of the family. He's been with us for ten years and he's much-loved. He's got a second chance to enjoy life, and we've got a second chance to enjoy him being around.