Thursday, 16 August 2007

Especially for Dog Lovers

Yesterday was a very sad day. On Tuesday Mollie and I went out walking with Viv and her very elderly Jack Russell, Sammy. Sammy arrived in Viv’s home 17 years ago and has, as you can imagine, been part of the family ever since. If not ruled the roost. We had a lovely walk, sorted the world out, and, as usual, Sammy bossed Mollie around (“bloody kids, no respect for their elders”) though she did look a bit tired on the way home so Viv carried her for the last bit.

Viv rang yesterday morning in tears and I had a horrible premonition which was right. Sammy died yesterday morning. "It was my fault," she cried. "That was a long walk for an old dog. It was too much for her.”

This had crossed my mind, but I said firmly, “Absolutely not. Her last outing was a lovely walk with her Mum. What better way to go?”

Poor Viv hiccuped down the phone and said, “Thanks, I feel much better now.” And we both cried for another ten minutes.

For those of you who don’t have dogs, it must seem strange that we are so utterly distraught when anything happens to our dogs. But they are our children, they’re part of us. Mollie is my first dog but I can’t imagine life without her now. She crept into my heart as a little scrap of a thing and now is lodged there, forever.

I’ve been wondering how best to comfort Viv and was considering taking her to a rescue centre. When she’s had time to grieve, which could take some time. Then I remembered meeting a friend last week whose lurcher cross is having puppies in a month’s time. “You don’t know of anyone who wants a puppy, do you?” she said. “I want them to go to a really good home.”

So now I have two possibilities.

On a brighter note, I was walking Moll this morning when I met a mum who got Poppy, a rescue greyhound. This young mum has two young children (2 and 4) so she’s got her hands full, but took on Poppy who had suffered terrible traumas which I can’t bear to repeat. Poor Poppy just stood and shook at first. Now, 4 months on, she’s a different dog. She bounds along, plays with other dogs, tolerates being crawled over by the children and can even greet men (her torturer was male).

When I said how lovely it was to see Poppy looking so happy, the mum smiled and her face lit up. “We’ve never had a dog before, so it didn’t matter having one with special needs,” she said. “We didn’t have anything to compare her to.”

She made me feel humble and inspired at the same time. If only there were more people like her in this world.


Rebecca Taunton said...

That's very sad about your friend's dog but perhaps it was better that he didn't suffer, like some do,for long. And, like you said, she had a lovely last outing.

When I grew up, we had two dogs. One was very much my Mum's dog, the other I'd like to think of as mine. Sam was a rescue dog, he'd been a farm dog and badly mistreated, but given time with us he was great. I used to take him out for long solitary walks, just him and me. He died when I was 21; I was heartbroken.


Dee said...

I completely understand how you feel about your animals and how your friend feels about her dog. It's terrible when they are sick, let alone when they die! The only comfort is that you (her in this case) have given him a good life and home! But I know it's no consolation. So sorry for your friend.

The boyfriend is allergic to cat hair (I know I should have said no thanks when he asked me out for a second date after I knew this ;), and my cat now lives with his mum. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Every time I visit, there is heartbreak because he can't live with ME, and there is joy because he gives her much happiness now.

Flowerpot said...

21's a wonderful age for a dog, RT, but I bet you were heartbroken. I think we have to remember how much they give us and what a good life you'd given him. Still, it's hard.

Flowerpot said...

Oh dee, I can quite understand how yuo feel about your cat - such a difficult choice. A friend of mine parted with her cat because her (now) husband is allergic to anything with fur. What a terrible decision.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Your story broke my heart on a couple of levels. I can't bear the thought of anything happening to my dogs - they really are family members. And the dog who has wormed his way closest to my heart was also abused and abandoned. To look at this dog now you wouldn't believe it at all. They give back every bit of love we send their way - and then some.

Flowerpot said...

RT, sorry, I've just realised you were 21 not the dog, but just as agonising for you.

Correspondent - glad to meet another dog lover. What would we do without them?

Jez Bell said...

How sad for your friend - they are such a part of your life. Im sure my Mutt is going to be with me a lot longer than any bloke has lasted!!
Have to say your Mollie looks so sweet. Do you meet people out walking and get to know their dogs names but not theirs - i do this all the time!

Graham & Prince said...

Oh goodness, I can totally identify with your friends absolute devastation. As you know, it's less than three weeks since I lost Prince, and I'm still in bits most of the time. Please pass on my best wishes.

Another dog will probably really help, but the timing's really difficult. Some people need months or even years before they consider it, and other decide much sooner, like me. I think the key is to recognise that no dog could ever replace or substitute the one you've lost, and that's not the point. They all have their own characters and quirks - and don't I know it!

julia said...

I was just laughing at your picture 'The Standoff' when I realized your post was about losing a dog. I can sympathize with Viv feeling that she shouldn't have taken the dog on such a long walk, but I agree with you. Sammy obviously had a glorious final day and enjoyed it with his whole heart.

I have a 6-year-old mixed breed dog (beagle & Nova Scotia Duck Toller) and I find myself fervently hoping her mixed-breed status gives her a very long life.

Miss Understood said...

I agree with you FP. What a wonderful way to spend a last day before going off to doggy heaven.

Our family dog was 21 when he had to be put to sleep. He lived with us all until my Mum and Dad divorced, and then spent his last 10 years just with my Dad. I can't imagine what he must have gone through on that day...they were inseparable.

Flowerpot said...

jez bell - yes, dogs are such a constant. And yes, I always find I know the dog's name but rarely the 'parent's' when out walking!

G, P & T - I'm sorry if this post was rather close to the bone. You're so right about timing - she might not want another dog at all, but only she can tell when she's ready. I'm so glad you've found Tilly - not that she would ever be Prince, but she's another complete character in herself by the sound of it.

Julia - glad to meet yet another dog lover! Glad you enjoyed The Standoff. What is a Nova Scotia Duck Toller? Sounds amazing!

MissU - your story about your dog has set me off again. But aren't dogs wonderful? I couldnt be without one now.

Akelamalu said...

I can so empathise with you friend. Even though it years since my love Guinness died I can still cry for him. :(