Deb’s shining light

Life isn’t always easy. Many of us have survived times so hard, we might look back and wonder how we got through. Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania volunteer Deb doesn’t have to wonder – she knows the answer.

It’s an English Staffy named Lilly Rose, adopted in 2010 when Lilly, a stray, was believed to be about eight months old.

“She was in the kennel, crying – you could tell she was overwhelmed – and just looked so sad,” Deb says. “When I sat with her, her personality changed – it was instant love.”

At the time Deb was living with her parents. “She just instantly fell in love with Mum and Dad. They call her their granddaughter, and we refer to them as Nanny and Poppy.”

Deb is candid about the challenges she has faced. “I suffer with depression,” she says. “Lilly was what got me through really dark stages. She’s been that one constant in my life. She just made life better with that unconditional love, and gave me a sense of purpose.

No, that's not a seal pup — that's Lilly!
Lilly with mum Deb and dad Scott
Lilly immortalised on Deb's leg

“She was my glue – what kept me going. When I used to have really bad days and be sad, she would always pick up on that. So if I’d been crying, she’d come over and lick my face, and make sure I was all right.”

Deb has crippling back pain that also causes headaches. Lilly, now 14 years old, will lie down on the floor with her, give her a lick, and still, after all these years, make sure she’s all right.

But it’s not all about Deb, as Lilly has a great relationship with Deb’s partner Scott, and puts on a special excitable show when he gets home from work. At night she snuggles down under the covers between them like a heat-seeking missile.

She can be demanding, but that’s just part of her personality. “Lilly just dominates everybody – she lets you know what she wants when she wants it, and she’ll keep at you until she gets what she wants. She’s very spoilt and very much the boss.”

Lilly is such an object of worship, Deb draws our attention to her “shrine” in the lounge room, featuring a stretched canvas portrait, a professionally shot black-and-white photo of Deb and Scott with Lilly, and a large pencil drawing of their beloved girl. She also has an engraved necklace bearing Lilly’s visage.

The clincher, though, is Deb’s extraordinarily lifelike Lilly tattoo set among lilies and roses, a symbol of devotion that must have caused more than a little bit of pain – a price gladly paid for a lifetime of love.

Cuddles on the couch with mum and the rabbits
Lilly in the wild
Lucky Lilly with Deb and Scott
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