Waiting for me to come home
I never thought I would be writing this so soon. I thought you would live to be 17 at least – you seemed so fit and healthy. Then yesterday, the vet put you down and I lost 5 more years with you.
I remember the day we got you as a puppy from the petshop. It was only a week since our silky had died, and it was too soon to be replacing him, even I knew that. But 4 year old Kirsty and I went late night shopping, and I saw you being taken out of the basket. You had just arrived and you were adorable. I picked you up and you nuzzled my neck and chewed my hair and instantly I fell in love. We took you home to be greeted by 10 year old James at the door. “Why are you so la…” he started complaining until he saw the little bundle in my arms. “What’s that?” he said delightedly.
I brought our new puppy inside, put you gently down and we all crooned over you. You were such a tiny little guy, but oh so cute. We all instantly fell for you, me the hardest… well perhaps there was one family member who didn’t succumb quite so quickly. You took one look at Sasha, then 12; she looked remarkably similar to the photo the petshop showed us of your mother. “Mummy” you squealed delightedly and scampered over to her. “Get lost kid!” she snarled back and you whimpered, tail down, and hid between my legs. I was your protector and the one you chose to be your owner; that’s how it began, and that’s how it stayed right up until yesterday when I couldn’t protect you any longer.
The morning after you arrived, Kirsty (always keen to sleep in) came down at 5am and said “can I play with the little doggie?” Michael wrote stories about going in a time machine with Rascal to another planet. James ran along the dog-beach with you at his heels. My husband, initially annoyed that I had bought a puppy too soon, crooned along with everyone else. You were special to each and every one of us.
James named you Rascal because you were forever stealing their soft teddies, chewing things and getting into mischief. There was the time when I was sitting on the internet ordering groceries online, wondering why the internet was getting slower and slower and s-l-o-w-e-r – until I became aware of the sound of chewing in the background and realised you were gnawing the internet cable. Thank goodness you weren’t electrocuted.
There was the time I was supposed to take you to Show and Tell at Kirstys school. I walked you round the block, aiming to tyre you out but you darted forward and, before I could stop you, rolled in cow manure on the neighbours grass and stank to high heaven. I had to race you back home for a quick bath.
Only this year, at the age of 12, you jumped on the table, stole Tina’s (our other dog) anti-inflammatory chewable tablets and ate every single one. The dose was enough to kill you 4 times over. I rushed you to the vet, he pumped your stomach and we heaved a sigh of relief that you recovered with no ill-effects.
Then there was the habit you never broke: sock patrol. Every night you would sneak upstairs, visiting each family member in turn to steal as many socks as you could find (the smellier the better). It astounded me just how many socks you could fit in your mouth. Afterwards you would hide them in your sock graveyard. Unfortunately I rearranged the lounge furniture last year and my chair was no longer in the corner of the room, ruining your hidey hole behind me. This caused you great angst as you would stalk around the room, wimpering as if in great pain, then finally settle on my lap, deposit your socks to me as a gift offering (you knew I wouldn’t steal them from you) to spend the rest of the evening together.
I’ll never forget the day we took you walking and you darted up to the neighbours front door and stole socks out of the shoes that were left outside. We didn’t notice the black socks in your mouth to start with, then had to retrace our steps to find the owner.
You hated spending the night in the laundry. As bedtime approached, you would pull down the budgies black cover and lie on it, vanishing against the background, and I would worry you were lost.
Three weeks ago you were active, still running around the house, still chasing birds at the park, still trying to hump dogs many times your size (and giving me even more grey hairs in case they turned against you). We were growing old together, you and I, and I thought this would continue. Then two weeks ago you ran to the gate for your usual dispute over who owned the pathway (another dog was walking by) and you screamed in anguish. Your front leg dangled uselessly.
The vet confirmed you had broken your leg, and, in view of your age, he was worried about bone cancer. I googled it and you displayed some worrying signs; however the vet said the x-ray seemed ok. We paid for you to have a plate at enormous expense, but on Friday I faced reality: your leg wasn’t healing the way the vet expected. I rang to query this and yesterday you were back at the vet. He said maybe it was just a loose screw, and I dared to hope again. Then he put you under and took another x-ray, and we got the bad news; the bone had broken again immediately above the plate. Not just that, but there was something wrong with the bone. That dreaded “c” word. And you never woke up.
I never said goodbye so I am saying it now. I miss you. So much. I wish I could have a lobotomy so I could stop thinking about you. I have cried and cried and still there are more tears; the truth is that I am heartbroken. The past two weeks have been a roller-coaster. It feels like you died twice, because for a short while there in the middle I dared to dream I was getting you back. It breaks my heart that your last two weeks were spent in a cage to immobilise your leg.
I miss you jumping on the bed, diving under the blankets and cuddling up to me. I miss your sock patrol and you sitting on my lap. I even miss you scratching determinedly at the bathroom when I am having a bath because you can’t bear to be parted from me formore than one nanosecond. Tina misses you too: last night she pulled down the black budgie cover and curled up in it in your place. You were a dog in a million and very, very special; such a gentle little soul who I adored from the start. Rest well little guy.