Now I sit here looking back to that October day in 1998 when I first saw him at the animal shelter. He was in a large group of other unwanted pups that had recently been transferred to Peterborough from the Sheffield Dog Pound. They were all filthy and underfed and they ran around together in a large, muddy enclosure. Harry – as he was to become – stood out straightaway, not just because of his wonderful colouring, but because there was something about his stance and his enthusiasm. He had a tail that seemed permanently set to ‘wag’ and he looked like a dog determined to embrace life, no matter what. In fact, to me he positively shone. It was love at first sight.
Minutes later I was the proud owner of a four-month-old, ginger mutt who had a ribcage I could have used as a xylophone and a collection of unwelcome guests about his person (worms, mange mites, fleas). He was also losing his milk teeth and had horrendous diarrhoea.
Months passed. Harry became a handsome, healthy dog with a gorgeous, amber-coloured coat and a Hollywood smile (no dog-breath for Harry!), and for sixteen years I had the privilege of sharing my life with this beautiful soul. For much of that time he was the only reason I got up in the morning. He was the truest friend I will probably ever have.
My life has changed for the better now so I guess Harry thought his work here was done and he could go Home. He suffered a dramatic decline in health over a three-day period and I knew it was time to let him go.
Harry is gone from this place. But I know he won’t rest in peace! He’ll be running like the wind, running like he loved to do before old age reduced his gait to a stiff-legged shuffle. He’ll be running through the Spirit realms like a mad thing, eyes bright and tongue lolling. He’ll be chasing astral butterflies over those deep-green Elysian Fields. And his tail will be set to ‘wag’.
Goodbye, old friend, and thank you. Thank you for all the joy you brought into my life with your happy heart, your exuberance and your unconditional love. You taught me to embrace life, no matter what.