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Monday, December 26, 2011

Death of a loyal friend

I remember carrying her back from the kennels; it wasn't a whisker ago either. Maude was alive then. As well as Bobby, and Saul our tabby. How the poor feline hated her at first! I never thought I'd see the day when the two of them were to be found together, enjoying the heat of the fire, apparently watching television! The pup was a wee thing to begin with; a sprat of a creature, thin with nobbled bones sticking through her young and taut fur. A dreadful sight, and a wicked damnation on the farmer who allowed the puppy and her brothers and sisters get into that morally repulsive condition. Rot in hell may he.
When not annoying Saul, as she grew, she felt sweet towards humans despite the treatment she had suffered at the hand of one of us. Maude used to bath her about once a month, and we were convinced she loved our attention. But never a bark she uttered. Her way of convincing us that all was not as it should be was to growl softly, and widen her delicate brown eyes. Her temperament was one of silence, one to which we could talk, as if she understood. But now, with Maude long in her grave, Bobby, lost to us at sea and Saul, the only other animal she had tolerated in the house, long since, I suppose, turned into glue, my dearest companion had leukaemia.
She was six thousand and fifty three days old when we made our final trip together to the People's Dispensary. A suitably dull, thunderous and dangerous day. Young Tom, my next door neighbour's boy helped me place her into the cab, but then I told him he could go no further . A frivolous boy, but that day he understood why and where we were going. An aura of sadness pervaded, but we left him nevertheless. I saw him recede into the distance, and felt a chill as I realised that that was a forerunner of what I would soon have to do.
The vet understood. He was a personal friend, and knew his business. Simon had given her her first round of shots, and had especially cared for her when, in her seventh year she was pained with kidney stones. As I waited in the grey waiting room, her head on my lap, her eyes occasionally flicking upwards to see if I was looking at her, paying her my usual attention, I felt so much complex guilt it was impossible to decode or describe. I pulled so gently at her little terrier ears and felt blocked; in all ways. Close to tears, to distraction, to hell, I had not felt as much when Maude, my only sister, had been lowered into that old Victorian cemetry in that mangy old casket.
I was called, and she managed to walk in with me. Simon knew why we were there, and he very gently lifted her onto the table. He did not speak, but retreated into the shadows, and we were left alone for the last time. I kissed her gently between her eyes, and felt her warmth and in return, she offered a slow lick on my cheek, and then laid her head back down between her paws, her eyes still occasionally flicking up towards me.
Aware of Simon's time, I spoke a last few soft and gentle words, telling her that I loved her, and that I would always love her. There was an unspoken communication between us, and I believe, however impossible it may seem, that she understood. She did not murmur as the needle entered, but I held her right paw and stroked her soft head until, within seconds, her brown eyes closed quite peacefully. Then the last breath and life left her. I was bubbling, and fixed with emotion but I did not cry. It was peace for her; no more awful pain. She was gone; my perfect playmate, chum and companion was dead.
I do not remember reaching home, but when I did, I could smell her and only then did my personal dam break. Much later, after the storm had turned westward, to softer horizons, I gathered her toys, her lead, her basket, my many photographs and placed them in a box. This I stored in the attic, after which I wrote my diary. It was a miserly entry; ruthless and mean, and sadly did not reflect the love I felt or the emptiness and loneliness which was beginning to close, tighten and envelope me; Rose was put to sleep today. Alone again.

Molly Cutpurse

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a wretched feeling, taking an animal for that last ride. Been there.