When Nic Preston adopted 11-month-old terrier Teddy in early 2021, he had no idea the role his dog would come to play in his life.
Tragically, less than a year after bringing Teddy home, Nic would find himself a widower, after losing his husband Neil to cancer on Boxing Day. Since then Teddy has become Nic’s loyal companion as he navigates his new life without Neil.
“I really don’t know how I’d have coped without Teddy,” says Nic, 40, who lives in Codsall, South Staffordshire “He is my best friend, my comfort and my reason to get up in the morning. He’s given me the courage and confidence to believe I can carry on and forge a good life.”
Nic and Neil, who were together for 21 years, adopted rescue dog Teddy from the Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home.
“He was a lockdown puppy who’d been given up, and had some challenging behaviours, but we knew that with time and love, and some proper training, we could help him,” says Nic. “He thrived in our care and soon became an incredibly affectionate bundle of love, with endless energy. We were besotted with him.”
Neil was diagnosed with cancer in November 2021, aged 48, and just six weeks later died in a hospice.
'Teddy is a connection to Neil, and the life and love we shared, and he is my best friend' – Nic
“It was so fast and traumatic, but what really helped both of us during those weeks was having Teddy around,” says Nic. “He was allowed to visit Neil in the hospice, and instead of running around like he normally does, he was very calm, cuddling up to him in bed and licking his arm. It was as if he sensed what was happening.
“When it came to planning Neil’s funeral in January, I was adamant Teddy would attend. We were a family of three so it was only right he was there, plus I knew his presence would bring me comfort and calmness on the hardest day of my life. He sat quietly with his dog trainer just behind me at the crematorium, and knowing he was there helped me through the day.”
Since then, Nic has been on a journey through widowhood, with Teddy always by his side.
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“In the early weeks and months after Neil died, there were some days when I just didn’t even want to get up, but Teddy made me. I had a responsibility to him and I knew I couldn’t just give up. We’d head out for long walks, or cuddle on the sofa, and no matter how I was feeling he always cheered me up.
“I’ve had support from the charity WAY (Widowed and Young) and met up with other widowed dog owners for walks, and made some great friendships.”
In July this year Teddy even accompanied Nic to Pride in London.
“Since Neil died, I’ve struggled with anxiety and being in big crowds, but I knew that with Teddy by my side I could not only attend but enjoy the day, and I did. And so did he!” says Nic.
To Nic, Teddy is so much more than just a pet.
‘He’s a connection to Neil, and the life and love we shared, and he is my best friend.’
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