March 7, 2009: A Pet’s Death

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Today my sweet, gentle Joey died. We were in the field for our regular walk, and he came running back to me as always, tail wagging and eyes bright; then he was suddenly on the ground gasping and moaning; and he died. Less than twenty seconds, I’d guess. I felt his heart, and it was beating so fast it was uncountable; then his eyes went blank, and he was dead.

I called out to a passing stranger, a dog walker I’d never seen before, and she ran over with her dog and her cell phone. She rang our number, but my husband  wasn’t answering the phone Because he was working. So she volunteered to go to our house and get him so I could stay with Joey’s body.

She came back about ten minutes later and said my husband  was bringing the car and a blanket. I thanked her profusely and she went off to finish her walk with her dog.

Then  I spied Toby, Joey’s best doggie buddy and his person, Leonie, my best friend in the village. They were walking ‘way across on the other side of the field. Leonie loved Joey, as did her son Justin, who was our dog sitter when my husband and I went on holidays. My husband arrived at that moment, so I left him with Joey and went to tell Leonie what happened.

Leonie was with her friend, another dog walker, whose little terrier Ruby liked run with Joey. Both women threw their arms around me and started to cry when I told them Joey had just died. Leonie’s friend called her husband to come help us move Joey’s body.

Neil, the husband, turned out to be a huge, muscular man who told us (women) to go have a cup of tea while he and my husband (the men) took care of Joey’s body. Off we went. Leonie went home with Toby and I was shepherded to Neil and Linda’s house by Linda and little Ruby.

My husband and Neil arrived at the house at about the same time we did, and we were forced inside to have that universal English cure for all ailments, a nice cup of tea, which we drank while we talked about the dogs. These people were virtual strangers. I’d met her while dog walking only, and we knew each other’s dog’s names but not each other’s names. We’d never met her husband, But they took us in like long, lost relatives. So we had our tea, thanked them and left. My husband told me that Neil picked Joey up like a baby and cradled him all the way to the car (a good 200 yards, carrying a 75-pound dog).

Then I had to find out what to do with Joey’s body, which was in the back of our car. I called the RSPCA, who gave me the number of the nearest emergency vet. In the end, we drove into Peterborough, about a half hour’s drive, to take him to the vet’s office, and they will take care of the cremation.

All in all it was a sad, exhausting day. I am in deep mourning for my Joey. He wasn’t the smartest dog I’ve ever had, nor the most beautiful. But he had the gentlest, kindest, sweetest disposition of any dog I’ve ever met and was loved by all the dogs and dog people who knew him.

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