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  • Writer's pictureRuth Jewell

The Death of a Pet.

Losing a pet can be just as hard as losing a human.

Our dog, Jake, arrived at our home one January day. We had applied to Labrador Rescue to re-home a chocolate female, but when they called to offer us a dog they told us they had matched us with a golden male!

Jake didn't have a great start in life. Despite being allowed to sleep on the sofa during the day, and on a bed at night he had never been walked and had a tiny garden. He had also been treated badly. So this chunky (overweight), and very scared dog arrived in our lives.

We were living, and working, at the time on a Scout Activity Centre. This meant that we had a huge garden, and then 86 private acres of woodland and field. Jake quickly settled in and learnt to trust us. He was wary of people wearing high vis jackets, baseball caps or sunglasses on their heads, and would cower if someone was carrying gloves. We soon realised that he had probably been hit by the man in the house and everyone on the centre adjusted their attire so as not to distress him.

With hundred's of children, and adults, visiting on a daily basis Jake became an extra attraction. Groups would arrive with their camping equipment and food....and a bag of dog treats. We would walk him each morning, around the centre, and groups would save him a sausage, piece of bacon or eggy bread. We had to exercise him a lot to keep his weight down!

It only took an evening to teach Jake to sit and to give you his paw. He even learnt to give you one paw after the other!

Whatever the weather he would have two walks a day. Routine was everything to Jake. From the moment you stirred in bed he bothered you to get up, the moment you were downstairs he had to be fed, and then he would collect one of his many soft toys, and wait to be let out into the garden to do his business. You were then allowed to sort yourself out before he began to pester you for his morning walk.

A walk was always followed by a sleep. If he was at home then he would sneak onto a sofa or chair, if he was in the office, then usually he could be found under one of our desks, or stretched out behind the reception desk. It would appear that he was in the deepest of sleeps, often snoring and twitching, sometimes running in his sleep. However, the moment you touched a food wrapper, or biscuit tin, he would be wide awake and at your side, with a wet nose nudging you.

Walks were everything to Jake. He behaved like a puppy, even in his later years. Whether it was leaping for a snowball, chasing a ball in the field or walking along the beach he always enjoyed every moment. Supermarket sweeping the sheep pooh was a favourite hobby, and he loved nothing more than meeting people (especially if they had treats in their pockets), and other dogs.

If we packed the car then he watched like a hawk to see if he was coming too. If he could jump in to the boot then he would settle himself down, just to make sure we didn't forget him. As if! He was our mascot at Scouting events, and happily spent the weekend being fussed over when we provided a family team to organise the car parking at a two day event.

The years went by, we moved house and Jake quickly settled into our new homes. He had some holidays with friends, and was spoilt rotten. He gradually began to slow down, and the arthritis that we knew would come, started to irk him. Medication allowed him to continue with his daily walks, but he slept more and couldn't go as far.

Our granddaughter joined the family and he showed the utmost patience with her, happily stalking her every time she had food. She became adept at slipping him a morsel or two!

Everything we did revolved around Jake. Just like parents with a young child, we couldn't just leave him and go away, or arrive home late when he would need company and a walk. Every plan we made, quite rightly, had to have Jake's care as our priority.

It was therefore with heavy hearts that we had to make the decision to have Jake put to sleep last week. His health had deteriorated. His arthritis caused his legs to give way and his heart was struggling to keep going. Whilst we know that we made absolutely the right decision for Jake, it was such a hard decision to make.

We lost a friend, a devoted companion, a loved one and our hearts are broken. The house feels empty without him and we look for him constantly. He was always there... led on the floor behind me whilst I was at my desk, beside us when we sat in the sun in the garden (he loved to get a tanned tummy), in the kitchen under our feet the moment we touched food, on his sofa in the lounge, beside us as we walked him (or miles ahead or behind us), beside me on his bed as we slept.

We have no dog to feed and let out each morning, no dog demanding a walk, no wet nose nudging your arm, no dog dribbling on your leg as you eat your breakfast, desperate for a morsel or two, no water bowl to refill throughout the day, no dog to give a tooth cleaning chew to before bed, no dog to say goodnight to.

The tears have flowed and continue to do so. He was a member of our family, loved by us all, and missed beyond words. He was daft, funny, gentle, loving and at times an absolute pain, but he was ours, and we were so privileged to have him in our lives.


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