On Good Friday we lost our dear old Labrador, Teddy. This photo was taken ten minutes before he lost the use of his back legs. He was my rock and always had my back. I never managed to have babies so I can understand people thinking dogs are my children: but they are more like extra body parts, so when one dies I am thrown off-balance. Dogs define who I am and how I live.
Our beloved Maud had six puppies in August 2007 and I lived with them in a shed at the bottom of the garden for their first three weeks. That’s a close bond. Teddy never changed throughout his eleven years and people who knew him have all said the same things when they heard he had died: sweet, steady, loving, a gentleman, a kind soul.
We thought he would outlive his mother. Maud died at thirteen. It was Ted’s one act of disobedience not to live to fourteen, despite constant instruction. In the past week I have got used to telling people how sudden it was; how the day played out. My throat doesn’t close any more and I probably look strangely calm. Then some trivial thing will pierce my heart (yesterday it was a brazil nut: don’t ask!)
Teddy is the fifth dog I’ve had the decision to put to sleep and it never gets any better but a little easier, knowing some things. So I have these words for anyone with their first dog and who dreads the day:
Love with your whole heart.
Always put the dog first and use your eyes. You will never regret the kindness of letting go but delay will haunt you.
Don’t worry that if you start crying you’ll never stop. Wallow in your grief and you will reach the point of happy memories sooner.
I read this from the mighty Howard Jacobsen this week:
I guess the experiences of life and loss help me to pour my heart into my writing. Often in my books are themes of losing pets or animals. I can feel all the grief I feel now and from my past losses filling the pages when I write about those topics. Loss is a part of life, fictitious life as well as real, it's only natural they become part of Bera's life too.