Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our old dog

Sadly she died last week. Thanks goodness for home ed: the boys (who were always her primary carers) were able to be with her 24/7 in her last few days, to hold her while she died, to dig her grave, perform a dignified burial and to take time out to mourn her passing. This has been vitally important to them, because it meant they could do their best for her and also duly process their feelings of bereavement.

She's been a great education to them throughout her life actually, as well as in death. At 10 and 11 years old, they were desperate for us to keep her, even though I knew I wasn't willing to commit to her care. She was one of my mother's dogs, but due to her incompatability with my mother's other dog, she had to be rehoused. It took weeks for Tom and Ali to persuade me to agree to take her and they had to promise to do everything she required, themselves.

I believed they had the best of intentions to undertake the daily duties of dog ownership but I must admit I had my doubts as to whether they'd actually follow through all the time. They were very young to take on such a responsibility. I really didn't want to end up having to nag them into walking her every day, and was slightly worried I might end up doing the job myself instead.

But my concerns were totally unfounded and I never had to remind them to walk, feed or clean up after her. They've been as good as their word day in, day out and done everything she needed. I only had to supply the dog food, which I didn't mind in the least. She's had a great life with them - in fact, as time went on she learned exactly how to get what she wanted from them, over and above the call of duty! She had a very Gandhi-esque way of passively resisting things she didn't like - she'd just sit down and refuse to be moved, until they had to pick her up and carry her around the place. So there she was, this big heavy labrador-cross, being carried around by my sons like an empress and looking quite smug about it, too.

She knew how to keep them in the field all day if she didn't want to come home and she even slept on one of their beds every night - taking up three quarters of the space, like a co-sleeping toddler does. And she still played in the snow like a puppy, old as she was, and she still wagged her tail when one of us came in the room, even up to the day before she died.

She'll be sorely missed, but I'm grateful to her for teaching my sons about the true meaning of responsibility. They know now what it means to be there for someone every day, even when you don't really feel like it and you might rather be doing something else. That's the kind of thing people say school attendance teaches, but if they'd been full-time compulsory school pupils they'd have had no choice about whether to attend every day, for fear I'd be prosecuted for their non-attendance, whereas they looked after the dog every day out of love and they're definitely the better for it.


Blogger Merry said...

Awwww.... a lovely obituary. What a lot she gave you all :) And you her.

2:53 pm, September 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww. A lovley post.

3:24 pm, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

It's great that your boys had that chance.

5:33 pm, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

Awww she was a well looked after happy dog and your boys are a credit to you looking after her the way they did. So many children get bored of pets and parents end up doing the caring.

5:36 pm, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Wobblymoo said...

She has taught them so much that could have never have learned had they been in a school

7:09 pm, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Kevin said...

Well she was a very lucky dog to have such great owners!

12:08 am, September 14, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

What a lovely tribute to her. She was very blessed having such a nice home to live her life and your boys were blessed in return. Heart-warming xxxx

12:11 am, September 14, 2007  
Anonymous Lucy said...

What a lovely post... animals do contribute so much to us, lovely to hear of your kids resposibility. She looks a lot like our dog :)

7:51 am, September 14, 2007  
Blogger Jules said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but what a wonderful tribute that was. She sounded like a very lucky dog with a first class home and owners, and you all benefitted from you providing such.

5:29 pm, September 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your dog. Glad to hear you all had time to grieve as you wished.

5:52 pm, September 14, 2007  
Blogger dottyspots said...

I'm really sorry to hear of the loss of your dog :0(

9:54 pm, September 14, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks all, for your condolences.

10:49 am, September 16, 2007  

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