Regular blog readers might have noticed I've been taking a blog break. Apologies – this wasn't planned. A few weeks ago, The Hound (that handsome stripy fella in my photo) fell ill, and twenty-four hours later, he had to be put to sleep. This post is written in his memory.
Do you remember the first time we met? I didn't know this then, but you were always wary of people you didn't know. Yet that day, a chilly November Saturday, you walked straight up to me, leant on me and looked up at me. Your gentle gaze hit me like a lightning bolt, and I knew from that moment that you were going to be mine.
Do you remember that day the following weekend when we brought you home? You'd never lived in a house before; never had a proper bed. The first time you lay down on your duvet and blankets, I could see the wonder in your eyes. At first, you wanted to be left alone, but as the evening progressed, you inched closer and closer to us – first laying in the doorway to the living room, then behind the armchairs, and finally, curling up on your blanket by my feet. And do you remember when you found the toys we'd bought for you? You'd never had those before, either, and when you chewed one and it squeaked, you couldn't work out where the sound was coming from.
Do you remember your first night here? Alone downstairs, you cried, until, ignoring the advice we'd been given by the kennels, we came downstairs to comfort you. And do you remember, after that, how quickly you settled in? How everyone who saw me out walking with you exclaimed over your size, your tiger-stripe markings and your gentleness? Watching you unwrap your presents that first Christmas was a joy. You got an orange ball which you chased all over the garden, leaping around like you were on springs.
Then, thanks to something that had happened to you before you came to us, you got sick. It took four months and a change of vets to get a diagnosis, during which time you were wasting away before our eyes. I was terrified we'd lose you, and couldn't believe you were going to be taken away from us so soon. But you were a fighter, and we fought for you too, and slowly, you began to come round. You weren't the same dog, and you would never be truly well again, but for us, that made you all the more special. Despite everything, you loved and trusted us, and we had a bond I've never known with any animal before. Life eventually returned to something like normal, and we were able to enjoy you more than ever before.
Do you remember the summer evening walks we used to go on, where you'd stalk through the long grass in the twilight, ears pricked up, your sharp eyes seeing things in the shadows we didn't even know were there? Do you remember how you used to get all your toys out of your basket, one by one, and fling them around? Do you remember lying on your 'sun lounger' in the garden, and I fetched a cushion to put under your head? Do you remember how you used to wait behind the front door when I got back from work, whinnying in excitement?
I wish we could have had one more day with you. Three years was not enough. Without you in it, the world is a very different place, and I don't know if we'll ever get used to it. But I'm glad we got to share our lives with you for a while.
Rest in peace, The Hound. We'll never forget you. x