I can’t believe this day has come, even though it was on the cards for a while. Our darling Charlie boy has died. I’m having a horrid day, I can’t stop crying, my eyes are stinging, I have a banging headache and a tightness in the back of my throat, Every now and then I find myself staring into space. Even though we made the decision to let him go, I can’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll never see him again. No more cuddles with my boy, and this boy knew how to cuddle …
Charlie, our ageing dog from the RSPCA in Windsor in the UK. He was the original ‘bad boy’, if I’d had a commercial brain, I could’ve written a book which would have made ‘Marley and Me’ pale into insignificance!
Just a year ago at the grand old age of 14 he joined us on a wonderful trip down through France, to Spain and Portugal in our motorhome, he adapted incredibly well to the travelling life and found a new lease of life, walks on the beach soon became his favourite pastime.
As a young dog, any of you who knew him will know that, he made me jump through hoops. He was a real Houdini, he was affectionately (but aptly) called The Door Dodger at the local kennels and rather than being kept in the ‘holiday’ wing he was lodged in the ‘quarantine’ kennels just to make sure he didn’t do a runner.And boy, could he run! Many people asked why I didn’t call him Forrest Gump, had I only known! He would run for the joy of running, ignoring everything else (including me!), he would take off on a mission only to return when he was totally exhausted, so much so that sometimes I would have to carry him back to the car!
Every day for over 14 years, I got up every morning, come rain, shine, snow, hail, thunder and would walk this chap in the local woods. He loved it, if it weren’t for this dog I would never have met some of my very best friends who will be my friends for ever.
He was so difficult to train, and for someone who never sticks at anything, this ‘little black devil’ (as my mum used to call him) managed to keep me on track and I can honestly say it took me at least 4 years to get him anywhere near resembling a ‘normal’ dog, We did it all, the good citizen course, bronze, silver and gold, dog agility, beginners, intermediate and advanced – all in an attempt to get this dog to be on my ‘team’. It was tough and I won’t paint a pretty picture just because he’s gone, he was a total nightmare! And then one day, it all clicked, he loved me and I loved him and we were inseparable, he came first … every single time. We would miss out on nights’ out, visits to people who didn’t accept dogs in their homes weren’t even considered, weekends away were a rarity and only if we had someone we trusted, Aunty Andrea, was the bestest in the world. We would take day trips to France and so a passport for the dog was a necessity, well it would be for our pup, he went everywhere with us.
Recently his health had be deteriorating, he was going downhill, so anyone meeting him now, had no idea what an incredible little soul this dog had, he just looked like any old, elderly dog. He just looked like a wee black dog with arthritis! Although there wasn’t one single day that has gone by that someone hasn’t stopped us to say hello to him, kiddies in particular love him often asking if he is a wolf (we’ve never understood that bit!) We knew he was something special but to anyone seeing him they wouldn’t know.
They wouldn’t know that this dog had an amazing character, he was a what a clown, he constantly made us giggle, and he knew it!
Then last week I had my sister and her family come to visit, Charlie really rallied and managed to be ‘on form’ while they were here. In fact, he was perky enough that we decided to take him to the beach one last time, and although he didn’t run, he pottered down to the water’s edge and enjoyed a dig in the sand.
I’m so glad my sister was there to take this last picture of us together.
The family left on Saturday and Charlie immediately took a turn for the worse, he refused to eat, he soiled himself twice, and had an upset stomach – which manifested itself both ends! Then this morning he didn’t get out of bed, he lay on the cold stone floor and it was 11 a.m. before we managed to coax him outside for a wee. We knew the time had come, he was letting us know he’d had enough, he was tired and ready to go.
Although it’s difficult to talk about, writing certainly helps and is much easier. I must tell you about Charlie’s final visit to the vet. After reading this, you too, will know that we’d made the right decision. Charlie hated going to the vet, he was always scared, he would scratch at the floor and the door in an effort to escape the stethoscope, panting and shedding hair by the handful. When on the examination table he’d twist and turn, fight and fidget, our job was to hold on to him with all our might, to avoid him falling off the table! Our regular vet frequently booked Charlie the last appointment of the day as we would all end up sweating and needing a shower.
Today we arrived at the clinic, we walked into the vet’s room and sat down on a couple of chairs for a chat, Charlie lay quietly at our feet. We lifted him on to the table and he didn’t stir, he gave his paw to have a little bit of hair shaved off. I held his head in my hands and talked calmly to him while The Hubster held his body and slowly and quietly he fell asleep and that was it, no wriggling, no whining, no panting, no complaining, he was tired and relaxed. He knew why he was there and I honestly think he was grateful.
And so that’s it … no more Charlie, he’s been the most wonderful friend, I’ve told him things that I’ve told no one else, he’s comforted me so often when I’ve been down, he’s made me laugh and cry.
We’ve washed his bedding and cleared away his bowls, stored away his lead and his harness, bagged up any remaining biscuits to give to the local homeless for their dogs.
Life will never be the same without Charlie but for me, we will always be walking on the beach … me and my dog …