Sunday 8 March 2009
Completely unexpectedly, the senior four-footed died yesterday. So difficult even to write it. An awful, awful gap.
And a Bosun-shaped gap looks like?
It's the puppy, all those years ago, who got so excited when he discovered that he could burrow right under the china cabinet and emerge somewhere else entirely at the other end (when he got too large to do so, I found the Technical Department considering raising the cabinet on wooden blocks, just so that he could carry on...), and the puppy who used to gallop, ears flapping, through the long grass in Kensington Gardens, for all the world as though he was hunting wildebeest in the Serengeti...
It's the dog who turned out to love music - just like his great-grandmother, apparently - and who would always raise his head and join in with the 'Dies Irae' in Verdi's Requiem (although his absolute favourite was nothing so high-brow, but was actually the signature tune from The Archers!) and whose particular partiality was for strong cheddar and for chicken livers. The dog who, tennis ball firmly in his mouth, would look round and check every so often when we were out for a walk that everybody was present and correct....and who, during the day, would come and find me whatever I was doing, and would curl up on the floor right there, because that was where he was supposed to be.
I shall miss the little pleasure noises he made when he was having a cuddle, or the inside of his ears were being scratched...or that difficult unreachable place right in the middle of his back; I shall miss the polite, Jeevesian woofle - more a throat-clearing than a bark - he made if he felt we were overdue in getting up and getting on with things in the morning, and the way he'd hang around after the junior four-footed had finished his breakfast milk and gone off back to bed, to lean against the fridge door and indicate that a little piece of cheese would really be quite a good idea (and which latterly he always got). I shall miss the din he used to make with his metal drinking bowl - by kicking it against the wall - if ever it was empty and he was thirsty...and the polite way he'd then wait for water to arrive (and the extended kicking and clanging if nothing had happened after several minutes, since obviously we couldn't have heard the first time). I shall miss the sceptical expression on his face when listening to the Today programme in the mornings...nothing to do with anything, of course, but his timing was often uncannily accurate when somebody was talking particular guff. And above all I shall miss those moments when we'd be playing together, and for a second or two he would rest his forehead against my shoulder, and just stay there, completely still; moments of perfect closeness.
Yesterday morning, he went in for what we thought should have been a fairly routine piece of surgery, but when the vet looked inside, he found a tumour so aggressive that he said we shouldn't bring him round from the anaesthetic, but should just let him carry on sleeping peacefully. He hadn't been in pain at any point, and so the best thing we could do was to let him go. Which we owed it to him to do...
And so, he sleeps on. Hunting wildebeest in the Serengeti, in his dreams. Ears flapping, as he gallops onward through the long grass...
Sleep well, Old Friend.