My boy Harry, my constant shadow, is going to be euthanised tomorrow at 3.15 pm, the vet is visiting us here at home. Here he is in his prime, look at how magnificent he is.
I decided a long time ago that we would euthanise Harry here at home, as it is very important that his ghost doesn’t get lost. This boy has been my constant shadow for thirteen years. His dad was a full Blue Heeler and Harry has all the Heeler’s obsessive loyalty and work ethic.
Here Harry is working and you can see that he is focused and intent with that crazy heeler look in his eye.
We had to change the rules of backyard cricket to accommodate his mad ball skills. Nothing got past him and I mean nothing. He was equally skilled at soccer as he was at cricket, I have had grown men here trying to kick a soccer ball past him into the goals, to no avail, as he never took his eye off the ball and so he was untrickable. It was hilarious watching some of the men as their egos would not allow them to be beaten by a dog.
Harry beat them, every, single, time.
As with most magnificently intelligent dogs, it wasn’t all good. Harry disliked small children as he wasn’t sure what they were or how these short creatures fitted into the scheme of things, so he would eyeball them warily and snap at them if they came too close to him. Once the grandchildren were taller than him it was as if a light went on and he realised they were small humans, but he was never to be trusted to be alone with them.
Lace up shoes offended his eyes, The Spouse has a pool table in his shed and Harry liked to doze under the table. He would bite the feet of any pool players who were wearing lace up shoes. Harry knew that his men wore Blundstones and he had to be banished outside while they were playing, as he really bit them hard.
Harry loathed Brushtail possums with a fiery, fiery passion and that nighttime ack ack ack from a possum up a tree was a call to arms. He spent many a night stubbornly sleeping under a tree because he would not leave that invisible-to-us possum, his frustration evident that his humans were too blind to see what was clearly there taunting us.
He was also ruthless cat hunter, as we have a population of feral cats here that The Spouse works to control, Harry knew what his job was there and did it well. Our new Kitten, Red Cat the Fearless is agile enough to leap away from Harry’s warning snaps and fearless enough to try to clean Harry’s ears for him. A couple of years ago it might have been very, very different for Red Cat The Fearless.
Harry was so well tuned into me, that he obeyed a finger snap instantly, I never walked him on a lead on our quiet dirt road, as he knew my rules and obeyed them. He was friendly with strangers, unless I whispered the secret words to him and then he was all quiet menace and attention to me. Heelers have a reputation as good dogs who aren’t afraid to have a go. Harry wasn’t afraid to have a go.
A Heeler who isn’t allowed to work, can go quietly insane and they often show obsessive qualities. Harry rode that fine line between obsession and insanity well, he was a complicated, intelligent, amazingly good dog, who was true to his type.
Yesterday for the first time in thirteen years Harry did not follow me to the toilet. He watched me leave the room and he sighed. I knew then that I had to ring the vet, because for him to not shadow me, told me that it was time.
Dogs try so hard to be good, they try and try and they trick us into believing that maybe it isn’t their time. My head knew it was time to make the call, but oh my, Internet, I did not want to. I do not want to let this boyo of mine go, I will be bereft without him. Bereft.
When my Mother was dying in hospital, there was a standard hospital print on the wall, a garden scene, with irises in the foreground. Mum told me that she could see fairies dancing in that garden, I had a long look but they were beyond my perception and we agreed that they were hiding from me, just behind the irises. Mum also saw a little brown dog, sleeping on a chair in her room, not doing anything, just sleeping in a chair, waiting. Yesterday I saw the ghost of my old black Tom cat Smooch, I haven’t seen his ghost for a long time, I am pleased he is here for Harry as they were comfortable companions in life.
Monty the Goofball Nutter will distract me, Red Cat the Fearless will also distract and soothe me but I suspect that my grief for my dog will manifest as brusque impatience. Couple that with my menopausal moods and I expect to be a bit snappier and a bit more honest than normal. I will try to be zen, but at fifty years old I am tired of diplomacy, I think my quota of tolerance to fools, asshattery and entitlement is diminishing exponentially as my core temperature rises. We shall see.
And here he is now, my darlingest, bestest Harry boy. He looks so very tired in this photo I took on our walk yesterday.
It is time to say goodbye.
I am bereft.
Bereft and shadowless.