Today, my little boy turns four, marking the third year that he has been in my life.

So, this post goes out to all the animal lovers out there; I know you’ll know what I’m on about.

Soda came in to our lives completely unexpectedly. As most of you will already know, I had had to leave my Postgraduate course to become a teacher due to falling unexpectedly ill. It took a lot of time, patience and multiple emotional breakdowns to get to the root of my problems, but, finally, we found a doctor who started piecing it all together for us. Rewinding slightly, Soda came into my life like a staffy-shaped whirlwind just when things had really started to fall apart. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether getting a dog was a good idea. I was bed-ridden, and the idea of having to look after anyone else seemed impossible. But, Paul, the boy, somehow knew that this was exactly what I needed.

It took approximately two minutes; from seeing Soda walking towards me, to my bending down and him jumping up and gently nipping the end of my nose, for me to know he was my boy. It’s hard to explain in words, and I’m sure there are people out there thinking: ‘not another person anthropomorphising their bloody dog!’, but from the moment I met Soda, I knew, he was part of our family. Like me, he was in need of a fresh start, and so, he came to live with us. And so When Caitie met Soda was born.

Soda became the reason that I got out of bed in the morning; in part, I’ll be honest, because as soon as you make eye contact with the little bugger he wags his tail so ferociously you fear he may do himself an injury. I’d get up, give him some breakfast and take him outside to do his morning business. And then, we’d go back to bed. And, Soda never complained about this. He just got right back into bed with me. We started walking Soda when Paul got home from work. Although the walks were short due to my health constraints, they became the thing that both Soda and I looked forward to most in the day. Soda would run around like an idiot, sniffing all the things, and Paul and I would talk, about everything and nothing at all. Sometimes we’d just walk, side-by-side, in silence, watching Soda’s uninhibited, pure joy at being on a walk. There is something so therapeutic about watching dogs on walks. It always reminds me to stop and take note of the beauty that is all around us. We spend so much of of our time chasing things that we think will make us happy, but sometimes all we really need is right in front of us.

Somewhere along this journey, I decided to start learning traditional silversmithing techniques in order to make my own jewellery. I’d had an interest in doing this for a long time; having a mother whose appreciation for fine jewellery sparked my interest in the field from an early age, but had just never really gotten round to it. My health problems presented the perfect opportunity to start, and for that, I am very grateful. I was encouraged and supported by the boy, and my wonderful family, without whom I really don’t know where I would be.

Among the first things I ever made, were a set of rings for my sister, for her birthday, now known as the Little Comet rings. My sister encouraged me to reproduce the rings and to start selling my designs, and, the rest, as they say, is history. Making jewellery has enabled me to start putting myself back together, piece by piece. And, it’s true, what they say, that every time you buy something from an independent seller they do a little happy dance. It will never cease to amaze me that people support When Caitie  met Soda by buying my designs. And, I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

That may seem like a large digression from the subject of this post, but, the two things are inextricably linked. Soda, my little boy, gave me back my spark. He taught, and teaches me every day, to stop and take note of the good things all around me. It can be hard to feel positive when you’re battling with a chronic condition, but, I promise you, there is hope. There is light. You are stronger than you think. For anyone else out there struggling; hang in there. You are not alone. You matter. And it will get better.

So, to my little boy. My little full-of-personality (we all know this is code for naughty) staffy. To the dog who changed my life without even knowing he did it. Happy birthday, Soda. You’re officially older than me and daddy now, and no, you can’t have a car. We love you, and we will love you for as long as we are lucky enough to have you.

Here’s to the Soda in When Caitie met Soda. Happy birthday Soda.

Until next time, friends,

Caitie xxx