Since 1977 we’ve had a dog, or even two in our home and lives, with just a month or two between them.  Prior to that, as a child, my parents brought our lovely Labrador home for 15 years. Now, for the first time, I find our home empty. Our dear old dog passed away last week, aged nearly 17. Good going for sure, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Gizmo had quite a life. He was born in the Canary Island of Tenerife. He belonged to somebody we knew, and we met him there when he was young, while we were celebrating our Silver Wedding. Little did we know that one day he would come home with us.

Gizmo moved to Spain with his owner, but sadly she did not keep him. We moved to Spain to discover that he needed a new home. From that time, he was my faithful friend; he seemed to know if I needed cheering up or felt ill, and always gave me a lick of encouragement. During his time in Spain with us, he lost an eye during an attack by another dog. This did not faze him at all. I think sometimes as he grew older, it was slightly more of a problem when things were on his blind side, but not noticeably so.

While we lived in Spain, we acquired another dog, Cara, who was born in the wild and her mother brought her up inside the hollow trunk of an olive tree with her siblings. They had to struggle with life, those dogs living in the Spanish Campo or countryside, so we took Cara as our own and helped find homes for the other dogs. Cara was beautiful and she and Gizmo got on really well.

Cara and Gizmo
Cara and Gizmo

When we returned to England, the two dogs had to wait in the kennels for us to send for them, as we had to find rented accomodation where we could have our pets. What a day it was, soon after we returned, to drive to Gatwick Airport to pick them up. They were as good as gold. I was so pleased to see them again.

Another house move for us all came about after we found a place to buy, and this time I had to be careful that they didn’t escape from the garden into a busy road. We soon made it dog-proof. Cara could run like the wind, but sadly at the age of just 6, she was diagnosed with bone cancer and had a leg amputated.

So, there we were, with one dog with one eye, and another with 3 legs. Cara initially did well, with several bouts of chemotherapy, but didn’t complete the course before she fell ill again and we had the sad decision to make to end her life.

I’d like to think that I will have another dog, one who needs a loving home, before I end my days, but for the present Mike and I need a little break, some days spent on holiday. That and with health issues for both of us may mean that I shan’t have another dog, but my goal is still there.

Rudyard Kipling put it in a way which we dog lovers can agree with:

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

20 thoughts on “End of an Era

  1. So sorry to hear about this. From personal experience it seems the more times I have to lose a pet the harder it gets, certainly not easier. I think it’s wise to give yourselves a break and think seriously if you want another pet. Or maybe adopt an older one. That was my plan but these two young cats had other ideas. They could live 20 more years and I have decided after that, absolutely no more pets! RIP Gizmo.

  2. Always sad to lose a friend, but I hope that knowing you enabled Gizmo to have a long and happy life is a comfort. I love animals and have had a variety of pets over the years, but the main problem is that they’re always dependent on you – unlike children who do eventually look after themselves! I do miss having a dog around (our last one lived to 16) but it’s also very liberating to be able to go on holiday without feeling guilty about leaving your pet with someone else. Now I get my pet ‘fix’ by visiting friends and relatives who have animals.

    1. Yes, I meet a lot of dogs when I’m out and about so I’m getting used to petting them. Dogs certainly are very tying, poor Gizmo was especially so. I do hope to have another dog one day all the same, when I’ve had a chance to do a little more travelling while we can!

  3. Oh, Chris!!! I am truly sorry for your loss!! I am in tears … I KNOW that loss and am looking at that very same loss soon. It never gets easier, even when you know it’s coming. Bless you and your hubby. Take all the time you need to heal your Heart. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

      1. I again wished to extend my Heart to you, Chris. Please KNOW you really did your very best for Gizmo. The pain of loosing someone who is so close to us tears our Hearts right out of our chests. May I suggest you directing your grief into something you Love to do so you create Beauty? Grief at times paralyzes us and it is with great effort that we can even do anything. Taking those first few steps to do something that you really Love to do, despite the pain, is the hardest part of the journey. Since my Dad passed in January, I have poured myself into my photography. It really has helped. May Peace be with you. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

      2. Thank you once again Amy for your beautiful thoughts. I am taking those steps, having the house partly upgraded, clearing away any rubbish and taking some time away when we can and I have many plans. I really want to help more dogs but have to deal with other things first. Hope Molly is continuing to improve with her health. Love and hugs, Chris x

      3. Good for you for keeping busy. I know and understand how tempting it is to curl up and just veg. I’m going through something similar. I’ll think of you today as I involve myself with things that need addressing. Bless you, Chris!!! ❤
        PS Molly is holding her own. 🙂

      1. Yes, they do, don’t they? My first one died of food poisoning, and died in my arms. And, just before she died, what a Loving, Intent Look She gave me! I cried. …

  4. So sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved pets. Hope that you are doing OK. We have just got a new puppy and having never had pets before, I am quickly becoming acquainted with “The power of the dog”. They are very special animals, as are all pets I’m sure, and they have a way of working themselves into our hearts.

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