A candid tale of 20-something humanness and extended note to self.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

When Annie died


The only thing I dislike about dogs is that they don't live as long as people do.

When I was six years old, I came in from playing outside one day to find a small, furry bundle snoozing contently upon a pile of blankets in the corner of the living room. Mum was crouched over her with a soppy smile on her face. 'We've got a dog,' she'd said with wonder, and I remember feeling excited and curious and nervous all at once, but back then I could never have imagined what this small, snoozing creature would become to me. I could never have imagined that she'd inhabit the same living room for the next sixteen years. I could never have imagined that she'd see me through some of the best and worst and scariest and greatest moments of my young life. I could never have imagined just how much I would grow to love her; just how intrinsic she would become to my existence.

'We've got a dog.'

Her name was Annie, and she became one of the best friends I ever had. When I was younger I used to sit with her on the stairs pretending that it was a bus and that she was the super canine driver. On those same stairs we invented 'noseball'. I'd roll a ball across the step to her using my nose, and she'd roll it back to me. It was the simplest of games but I was happy playing that with her for hours. She featured in many of my teddy bear plays, not once grumbling or growling when she'd lay on my bed surrounded by stuffed ducks and monkeys, not once throwing off the doll that I'd sit on her back. She played an enormous role in so many of the childhood games that I invented. She played an enormous role in my childhood. I loved her. I love her.

'We've got a dog.'

As we both grew older, and as time wrapped its distant self around those same childhood games and the exuberance of her youth, our relationship became strong and affectionate and sedated. We spent more time lazing together, playing silly, stationary games on the carpet, sneakily sharing roast dinners and sandwiches and crisps on the sofa; we spent more time just being instead of doing. I'd wrap her up in my dressing gown and scratch her hairy tummy and that was enough for both of us.

'We've got a dog.'

And then time started to wrap its distant self around those moments too, until, just over a week ago, after months of spending most of her time curled up sleeping, Annie's small, furry body began to shut down. She lay in the same corner of the living room where her life with us had started, only this time things could not have been more different. She had become deaf and significantly blind. She'd lost her appetite and the use of her legs. She was weak. She was tired. She was whimpering. She was dying.

In the same corner of the living room where her life with us had started, I laid with her and I held her and I told her that she was the best dog that ever lived. I told her many things. She probably couldn't hear me but those things I told her on that last morning were the some of the truest words that have ever crossed my lips.

And now she's gone. She's not hanging around my feet wagging her tail whilst I'm making a tuna sandwich. She's not there at the door, ready to greet me with bright eyes and a bursting heart when I come home. The house is empty of her hobbling and her quirks. The house is empty of something far greater than just her physical presence. The house is empty.

Since that heartbreaking moment whilst I stroked her on the veterinary table and watched as her eyes closed and her entire body became limp, and time wrapped itself around her and all of our moments once and for all, I've thought a lot about what it means to share life with a dog.

In that life that was long but never long enough, Annie taught me so much. She taught me to appreciate the small things; beautiful walks, a cosy spot on the sofa, a tuna sandwich. As she became older and wonkier and stiffer and more unwell, she taught me of optimism in the face of adversity. Not once did she take anything out on us. She just needed us more and loved us more for being there. She taught me of love, in its purest and fiercest form. She taught me of selflessness and ferocious loyalty and ultimate companionship. Her unblemished soul knew no evil or jealousy or discontent. How many people can we say that about? How many people can offer us relationships that never see a bad day? How many people can make us feel extraordinary?

And now this small, furry, extraordinary creature who brought out the best in me, is gone forever. And in being gone forever, she's taught me about time. Even its most beautiful snippets will always run out, and suddenly casual words spoken over sixteen years ago become words that changed life forever.

'We've got a dog.'

We had a dog, and every moment spent with her was beautiful.




SHARE:

10 comments

  1. We had a yorkie called Katie from a puppy, its sad when they leave us, nice to remember the fun times. Same with any pet. Hugs x x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw, I'm sorry to hear you've lost your dog. I was so dreadfully upset when we lost ours, I cried far more over him than any relative. They become a proper part of the family and losing them is so hard as you notice they are missing all the time. Hugs to you x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Kathy, you have me in tears. I am so sorry about Annie :( I lost my dog Bentley a couple of months ago and it was so painful, even more so because he was one of two fur babies and his poochy sibling Poppy hasn't been the same since. No one can show you love and affection quite like a dog, they really are an honour to have in your life, no love like it! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a beautiful post. My dog Macy died in May and I wrote about it on my blog too. I couldn't let the moment pass without marking it in some way and letting everyone know what she meant to me. She really was my best friend! Sounds like you had a wonderful relationship :) I still well up often when I think of Macy, constantly miss her around the house. Thoughts are with you, people don't always understand but it's hard xxx

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a beautiful post. My dog Macy died in May and I wrote about it on my blog too. I couldn't let the moment pass without marking it in some way and letting everyone know what she meant to me. She really was my best friend! Sounds like you had a wonderful relationship :) I still well up often when I think of Macy, constantly miss her around the house. Thoughts are with you, people don't always understand but it's hard xxx

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Kathy and glad you have so many happy memories. x

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Kathy, first time reading your blog and wow what a moving post. I've recentlyaadopted a dog that was abandoned and starved. She's become my life. I adore her.

    We bought her home from the dogstrust together so no iconic words, just the feeling of having a complete home almost as soon as she was signed over to us. She sleeps in my bed, hugs my kids, plays hide and seek and runs about like a loony at times.

    Its amazing the difference a dog makes, and I'm sorry for your loss. Annie clearly was family to you, but I was pleased to read you were with her at the end. X

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this :) Dogs are such special special creatures, they really do make life better. I have two, but I'd have 100 if I could :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is such a lovely post. I actually got a bit choked up. It's lovely how you have such cute memories to look back on

    x

    ReplyDelete
  10. Aww this is such a lovely post and it actually made me cry. I cannot even begin to think of losing Alfie so it must have been heart breaking
    xxx

    ReplyDelete

Write your thoughts, say hello, or tell me off for swearing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogger Template Created by pipdig