Yesterday we buried our dog. Laid him to rest. Born 8th September 2001, fourteen years and three months when he died. Very old, struggling, breathing nineteen to the dozen even in his sleep, stiff in the legs and back, pain in every limb, but never a word of complaint.
How I loved this dog.
A restrained animal. None of this smooching up and devoted gaze business. A dog’s dog, who would come to you when he wanted affection and never otherwise. Brush against you when you were out walking, just the tips of his fur against your calf, letting you know he was there, steering you back into the group if you were straying. Great thick fur on him that he shed constantly throughout his life, that would stand up along his back when threatened. Always top dog in the dog world and yet strangely timid, as all dogs are, frightened of a stick on the path, thunderstorms, snakes, loud noises, capable of a remarkable four-legged jump backwards at a surprise encounter with some tiny animal, and yet fierce in defence of those he lived with.
A lovely smell to him, in his fur, next to his ears. A scent like mown grass always in his paws. Teeth like mountains. Walking in his own footprints, you can see it in the photo above, leaving only a single track. Eyebrows that spoke, eyebrows that brought into question the whole human-canine history of co-existence, a dog who slept beneath your feet but woke at the sound of a single word heard in a long conversation, ears up, eyebrows arched, did you say walk?
Loved to ride in cars, for preference in the front seat, sitting up, watching what was going on. If the journey persisted he’d lie down, paws stretched over the handbrake and the gap between the seat, his head in your lap, the only sure time for genuine, unrequested affection. Grew up in a bookshop and got to be known about town. Capable of being sly when there was a chance of food, slipping out when the shop was full of customers to go and sit at the tables outside Monicas, his stomach pulled in, trying to show his ribs, his ears at full alert, watching the people eat.
Never liked the lead, but would walk happily at heel for as long as you liked. The smartest thing on four legs, sired by one of Hopper’s dogs. Never trained to cows but knew instinctively how to round them up, push them along. Always conscious of his position in the pack and yet, once, when we had a frightened pup come to stay, took the little thing completely under his control, showing it where to sleep, how to behave, even sharing his food, a side to him we’d never have believed possible, the two of them inseparable thereafter. The best dog. Rest in peace.
ps, the featured image at the top cuts off the prints which were the point of the photo, so I’ll put it in here again…