We had to have our faithful dog put down three weeks ago. I say ‘our’, but Gillespie (or Gill, for short) was actually my mum’s dog. However, you know how these things go… he was a member of the family. He’d been doing remarkably well really – at almost fourteen years old he’d had most of his teeth and one eye removed (have a read of Canine eye removal if you’d like to know more about this particularly grim event which, for me, was far too close to home). He’d also coped with a slipped disc and had a touch of arthritis and doggy dementia, but he still greeted us with enthusiasm, scoffed his food with gusto, and frequently legged it up and down the garden as if he was still a puppy. He was always delighted to go for walks, particularly if they involved a spot of geocaching along the way. Gill was the ultimate geohound, you see. Sniffing out tupperware was a speciality of his, along with sitting and waiting patiently for the last corner of my toast in the mornings (shhhhh, don’t tell my mum!).
However, we knew things weren’t good when he started going off his food. His appetite seemed to wax and wane, and we did occasionally wonder whether he was milking it a bit in order to get titbits of chicken and beef and even a bit of liver which my sister held her nose and cooked up especially to tempt him with. He developed a liking for shreddies and it wasn’t unusual for me to receive a text from my mum which stated proudly, “Gill’s eaten 24 shreddies this afternoon! :-)” Sometimes, once he’d eaten a few shreddies, he’d go on to eat other things, leading on to texts such as, “Gill likes my lentil soup!” and, “Gill’s had 3 good saucers of chicken and half a sausage!”. I should probably add here that the vet had said to keep trying to tempt him with whatever he would eat (within reason, obviously). However, after a while his appetite plummeted to new depths and a blood test revealed that his kidneys were failing. I won’t focus on the last few horrible days, but putting him to sleep was the kindest thing which could be done for him.
Anyone who has pets will know how grim it is to lose them. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s worth it. But then I remember all the good things about having them. Gill was my canine eye buddy. He always seemed to know when something was wrong, and after my first surgery he would lie with his head on the arm of the chair as he watched me anxiously. He was my posturing companion, when we disobeyed house rules while my mum was away and allowed the dogs upstairs and into the bedroom. He didn’t really quite get the knack of posturing, but he was a huge comfort as he lay down by the side of the bed, and he was also quite happy for me to practice learning German on him (https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/pondering-posturing-part-two-or-meine-augen-schmerzen/). Dogs are great, because they somehow know when something isn’t right and they come and sit next to you or lean against you without saying anything stupid like humans so often do. Gill did that sort of thing a lot. He brought us much happiness and hilarious entertainment at times, but now we have to get used to a Gill-shaped hole in our lives. Considering he was a relatively small dog, that hole is remarkably huge… 😥