Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear – Rudyard Kipling
Jasper is 13, she’s doddery now and losing herself. It’s time to say goodbye. The decision does not rest lightly or come easily. It brings a sore and rising lump to my throat.
We spent some time by the river after work yesterday. It is a place we’d regularly visit when we lived much closer. She loves the grassy banks and running between us. Finding a dead fish to roll in is always a bonus in her mind. It’s our last outing with her. It seemed right to revisit this place one last time. It was so good to see her being bouncy again, even just briefly.
This afternoon she closed her eyes for the last time. It was painless but so quick. We’ve known it for a while and have wrestled and agonised over the the decision. When do we draw the line – how far do we let her decline before we balance kindness and cruelty? What if we get it wrong? It is an awful place. I wonder if she sees it in my eyes. We’re bereft yet again. She is one of our best and closest friends. And now she’s gone.
Here she is lounging all over our bed on her back, head twisted one way and legs another, completely content. I’ve always been amazed how such a little dog can take up so much room. I routinely wake up clinging to a small strip along the edge of the bed while she snores on, loudly. I’m sure she believes it is actually her queen sized bed which she graciously allows us to share each night. I will miss her. I will miss her love, her softness, her company, her smell, her funny little ways. Her unwavering and totally unconditional love.
She’s stolen biscuits, dug holes in the garden, chewed my written notes, eaten my watchband, been proud of finding something smelly to roll in and is ridiculously possessive of her paws. She hides socks, eats only one of each pair of shoes and thinks she owns whatever she can see. She has unzipped countless bags and rummaged around in the contents. She thinks custom dental mouthguards are tasty chew toys. She hates anyone who wears all black clothing and her favourite toy is a stuffed wombat. She goes crazy after a bath running laps around the house almost digging up the carpet for grip. On walks she waits until we approach someone before she stops to cough and splutter dramatically, trying to convince people we’re choking her. She loves to have the wind in her face during a car trip, her elbow neatly cocked out of the window. Whenever she hurts her neck she seeks me out and shows me where to rub it. She licks her paws until we yell at her and then licks them some more. She insists on rubbing her face on the carpet. She stamps and sneezes with indignation if breakfast is late. She leaves her wet nose marks along the bottom of my windows.
She is always pleased to see me when I get home and greets me like a long lost best friend: every day. She’s seen me at my worst yet never judged me. She has no pat answers. I trust her with all my secrets and she loves me. She’s been there as a quiet comforter when I’ve been ill, snuggling closer she’s content to spend a day in bed with me as I recover. She’s cleaned my face of tears when I’ve been wracked in anguish. She’s happy just to be around me, whatever I might be doing. She’ll follow me from room to room just to make a nest while I work. She says very little, but her constant presence with me is more precious than any conversation.
I want to get this right, make sure we’re not keeping her too long but don’t want to rob her of life prematurely. I don’t want her to go but I don’t want her to suffer. Urgh – there is that lump in the throat again. We will hold her right to the end and hold her in our hearts much longer.
Goodbye my Beauty and elegance. I love you and will miss you desperately.