By Mimi Fong, Both Ends Of The Lead

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You are both lucky souls to find such a connection.

This is what a dear friend said to me recently.

She was referring to me and my beloved boy, my four legged best friend, Oli.

I am one of the lucky few. To have shared my life with a soul so special that the depth of connection and exceptional bond between us cannot easily be explained or understood by those who have not experienced this before.

I will never forget the first moment we met.

My beautiful boy was 8 weeks old. That was 12 and a half years ago.

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Those bright, black eyes that literally pierced my soul, how he sat up as soon as he saw me with that flash of recognition to say “I’ve been waiting for you!” It was the meeting of two soul mates.

Because that is what we were and still are.

Despite the fact that I had to make the most heart-wrenching decision in my life recently to put him to sleep.

Oli was diagnosed with an aggressive form of oropharyngeal cancer in January of this year. We were advised that it was inoperable and that the only options available to us were palliative in nature for the 3 to 6 months they said we may have left with him.

This was just the beginning of the emotional roller coaster ride for me and my family over the last 3 months of his life.

Throughout this time, my beautiful boy’s trademark zest for life always shone through – in every tail wag, soft lick, and happy look he gave me.

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However we also had not so good days. And it was during the not so good days when he was still able to show me his love and affection, and the simple contentment from just being near me despite the fierce war that was going on inside his body, that humbled me.

And this is what I would like to share with you.

The immense pride, respect and incredible love I have for him.

The extraordinary bravery, strength, toughness and tenacity of spirit that he showed every moment of every day.

The purity of love and happiness in the simple things in life which I saw from him each day even towards the end.

I have never really had anyone in my life who was close enough or struck enough of a chord to be a role model or source of inspiration to me.

This is no longer true.

In my eyes, Oli embodies all the best qualities I strive for. He is my inspiration and embodiment of what love should be, what courage means, and how happiness is. A reminder to take joy in the now and cherish those you love without judgement and to expect nothing in return.

My boy was there for me every step of the way during most of my major life changes as an adult, including the birth of my beautiful daughter. What he has given me and the countless ways he has enriched my life and my family’s is beyond measure.

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He is my family’s inspiration to get out there and help as many dogs and owners as we can to live a longer and healthier life together through our work at Both Ends Of The Lead. We are dedicating our ‘4 Paws 2 Feet’ 21 Day Stretch Together Challenge to Oli as a tribute to his fighting spirit and love for life.

My wish is for other owners and their family to enjoy the company and love of their four legged best friends for as long as possible. To treasure the time you have left together so that there are no regrets – only happy memories and gratitude. This is what I hope to be Oli’s legacy.

And why I am sharing such an intensely personal experience.

I feel so blessed that he chose me to be a part of his life.

So please gather as many two and four legged companions as you can to help us make this possible.

This video is in loving memory of my best friend who will always be missed dearly and will never be forgotten.

To my ‘once in a lifetime’ boy.

Until the next time we meet.

All my love and eternal gratitude.

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