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.
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?