Saturday, 19th November, 2016

For My Friend

          You left us.  Suddenly, you were gone.  Gone from our home and our lives.

We noticed that you were feeling unwell, but only for a few days before your passing.   So we decided to take you to see the vet.

On the morning of our visit to the vet, we got ourselves and you ready for the trip.   You asked to go into our garden a few times during those preparations.   Then, on one of those wanders into our garden, you seemed to be taking a while to return.   Often, when you had done what you had to do there, you would yap to tell us you were waiting to come in;  you did that only if we were not at the back-door waiting to open it for you.

Such was your attitude to being part of our Family.

So, having noticed that you hadn’t returned, I went outside.   There, right down at the bottom of our garden, you lay unmoving on the concrete path.  I went to you, calling your name gently.   There was no reaction.

You lay there motionless, though your eyes were open.   Those usually bright, alert eyes did not seem to be seeing anything.

I bent and gently picked you up, brought you back to and through the house, and placed you on the back seat of our car.   You had always regarded that back seat as your territory (along with other places in and around our home!).

There you lay, still unmoving, all the way to Aberystwyth.   Usually, you made it your habit to sit up and look out of the car window – I like to think that you were making sure we were going the right way.   On any trip, you did the same.   And you really did know where we were going on our regular routes!

At the vets, I parked and went to ask if you could be seen in the car.   The vet – a young lady – was very understanding.   In a very short space of time, she came out to see you.   She told us that you may have an infection, and that she could give us medication which may or may not help.

You simply lay there, unseeing eyes still open.   Your heart was still beating.

Seeing the situation, the vet left us to decide whether or not it was time to put you to sleep.   It took us very little time to make that decision – we knew and still know that it was the right one.

Tears streaming down my face, I went into the surgery and told the vet of our decision.   As you were unable to walk and I felt I could not carry you, (you big lump!) I asked if the job could be done where you lay in the back of the car.   The vet, understanding, said she would be with us shortly.

We waited but a short time for the vet and a nurse to come to you.   All that short time, we talked to you.   We feel you did not hear us, but we needed to do it.

The vet shaved a small patch on your left front-leg, and made the injection.   Within moments, it seemed, she pronounced you dead.   Our tears did not stop.

Vet and nurse placed you gently into a big sling and carried you away to the place where your body would be cremated.   We simply sat a while, and then drove off, our sadness indescribable.

The vet had commented that you had been a special dog.  She seemed to know that was the case, even though I had told her you were the eighth dog with whom I’d shared a home.

“A special dog” – yes that is what you were.   And are.   I’m sure that my little pal, Gypsy, helped you enter the next world, bringing with her the six other dogs I’ve lived with and loved.

It’s difficult to explain why you were “special”.   I must try, though.

You were a dog of independent thought.   You seemed to be able to perceive what was right – in any situation – and what was wrong.   You came to us with many hang-ups which had put into your brain due to – from what we gathered –  a puppyhood in a violent environment, where a drunken farmer would beat his wife and, for all we know, maltreat puppies.

That violence made you protective of women, girls and little children.   At first, you would bite me if I stood what you considered too close to Rosie.   You protected our grand-daughters in the same way.

Eventually, and after many years, those bites became nips.   But you still did it to warn me.

It took a few years for you to realise that this was your “forever home” and that we loved you totally.   This home became your territory, and you protected it against anyone who dared to come near our door – even the milkman and the postman.  What a sharp yap you had!

During your nearly twelve years with us, you became easier and easier to live with.   And we have many sweet memories of you and of things we did together.   It took three months with us for you to realise you could run.   And another three months after that for you to learn to wag your tail (a thing you rarely did all through your life).

Looking back, those nearly-twelve-years seem to have flitted by far too quickly.   The suddenness of their ending leaves a gap in our lives.   You are irreplaceable, though we may have another dog join us at some time in the future.

You became my friend, Bess, just as Gypsy became my little pal.

You and I disagreed from time to time – well, quite often – as true friends do.   But our friendship held us close.   It still does.   Bless you, my friend.   I can but hope that I am worthy enough to meet you again – and the other seven dogs I’ve shared a home with – in the sweet bye-and-bye.

I can’t express my love and admiration for you any further than I have done here.

Farewell, my friend.

Keith Stevenson

Friday, 18th November, 2016.

This is also published in “My Writings” under “Dogs With Whom I’ve Lived”

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