‘My failed IVF journey was hell – now our dogs fill the void of not having kids’

A woman who is unable to have children is opening up about her irreplaceable relationship with her pet dog, who “filled the empty void” in her heart. Kate Taylor, 45, from Wiltshire, adopted terrier Poppy when she was a puppy while struggling to conceive with her husband, Rob, 39.

Kate experienced all of the highs and lows of life with Poppy, from the first dance on her wedding day to the last unsuccessful round of IVF. Last year, Kate decided to create Canine Companion Day, on October 2, to “celebrate the special bond people have with their dogs “. Since Poppy’s sad death in March, the day means even more to her.

Kate told the Mirror : “Unless you have been lucky enough to experience the love of an exceptional dog, you really have no idea what an intimate place they hold in your heart.”

The former primary school teacher was devastated when she lost Poppy earlier this year, after being inseparable for almost 16 years.

“She was my absolute soulmate through three heartbreaking rounds of unsuccessful IVF treatment. We had such a strong bond and she knew exactly what I needed in my life,” Kate said.

Talking about her fertility journey, Kate said there “wasn’t much hope from the outset” and it was complicated as she had health issues and endometriosis.

“I grew up imagining I’d have two children, then I was devastated to be told that I could never have them,” she explained.

“Through it all, Poppy really was the only one who could give me any solace and comfort. She was what I needed to snap me out of a depressive state.

“A lot of people don’t understand how lonely and fearful infertility is. Other people couldn’t comfort me, even my mum because she didn’t understand my emotions.”

Kate said Poppy became her and Rob’s focus – though she wasn’t necessarily a child substitute, but more of a best friend.

“She was my motivator to get up, get on, and navigate a new path in life,” Kate explained.

“Over time, she provided me the hope that I needed. Life does go on and there’s more than one way to live your life.”

Having Poppy by her side gave Kate the confidence she was missing and made her “feel complete”.

As the senior pooch became older, Kate and Rob took on two other dogs, seven-month-old Winnie and two-year-old Gertie, who provided the same joy.

“During lockdown, dogs became such an important part of people’s lives,” Kate said.

“For me, Poppy was my first proper dog and she played such an important role.

“I wanted to celebrate what dogs bring to us and offer so I set up a day dedicated to our bond and relationship.

“Canine Companion Day gives people the opportunity to celebrate friendship, companionship and all their dogs do for them.”

Last year, more than three million people joined in celebrating Canine Companion Day online.

Today [October 2], Kate is asking dog lovers to share pictures of their pets on social media with the hashtag #CanineCompanionDay and a message about why they are so important.