Twelve years ago almost to the day we took on a small, boney and awkward but adorable Jack Russell Terrier who had not had the best start in life having been rejected by her mother. The LSO called her Minnow. I can remember being quite horrified as I had only just retired three months earlier, the LSO was still at work and our daughter was getting married the following month. We also had a Jack Russell Border Terrier cross called Rufus who loved people and children but hated ALL animals.
I had been rejoicing in my new found freedom after thirty five years of work. Well that state of euphoria certainly came to an abrupt end as we tried to find a way to make these two dogs accepting of each other. The house was like a battleground but after many months of special training for dysfunctional dogs for Rufus with The Walkabout Group we succeeded. From that point on the two dogs became inseparable until Rufus died at the ripe old age of seventeen and a half. Almost six years ago we re-homed a five year old Jack Russell called Barney whom Minnow wasn’t hugely keen on to begin with but in a short time our sweet little angular Minnow and the rather stocky but benign Barney became partners in crime.
Sadly, today, that partnership came to an end. Dear little Minnow had developed several invasive cancers, the quality of her life was utterly compromised, nothing could be done and we had to make the unbearable decision to let her gently slip away.
Minnow had filled a huge space in our lives, the lives of our children and also the AP’s, she too is upset at the loss. Minnow had been our constant companion for twelve years and the LSO worked out that he had covered more than seventeen thousand miles walking her every day. She had never been ill until the very end.
The LSO and I are feeling a bit lost without her and the tears keep flowing. She was a lovely, special little dog and will be remembered with love and affection. Yet, I know we will have another dog despite knowing the pain of losing them. The upside is the unconditional love, the fierce loyalty and the companionship they give you during their short lives.
Death touches us all at some time and it is never an easy place to be. We all have our own ways of dealing with the inevitable sadness and grief that the loss brings and all our different ways of coping are equally valid. In my case I cope by putting things into compartments until I am ready to peek under the lid. Up until now I haven’t been able to look at how I really feel about losing my brother. The initial news was inevitably of shock and that creates a kind of numbness. Then there is the empty space between the news and the final farewell. Funerals are strange and for me, stressful events, an odd mixture of pleasure at seeing family and friends and huge shared sadness.
I loved my brother, he was older than me and did everything before me including marrying and having a family. I was never in any rush to have my children and enjoyed the freedom the LSO and I had in those early years. Probably just as well as now we look after the AP, we have no freedom.
But back to my older brother. He was always there somewhere in my life. We never felt the need for constant contact and lived at either end of the country but distance and the passing of time never seemed to matter. When we met up or talked on the telephone it was as if we had just seen each other recently. During the last two years the LSO and I were able to enjoy some quality time with my brother. They had always got on well together and enjoyed each other’s company both having similar interests in fishing, shooting, the countryside and dog walking and for that I am truly grateful. I guess there are regrets but they are not worth dwelling on, the past is the past and should stay there and even looking back there was nothing any of us could have done that would have changed things.
I know that I must treasure the good memories and they will always be with me. I don’t want to hide away nor do I need too much sympathy as that makes me a bit weepy. I don’t believe in wallowing as that can turn into self pity. I have always approached most things in my life in an utterly practical and mostly positive way so I will carry on as I usually do but keeping a special place in my heart for my memories of my brother.