We swore blind we wouldn’t, but two weeks after Biscuit’s death, with Crumble ageing before our eyes, we succumbed. Here is the result: Blackberry, aged 7 weeks, although I warn that if you are currently looking for reasons NOT to have a puppy, these photographs will be seriously bad for your resolution! We bought her from Staffordshire, a county which has consequently gone up in my estimation. She comes from a highly respectable family of small, clever Jack Russells, smooth-haired, with tri-coloured faces and jaunty eyebrows.
I must report that Crumble is not very impressed, and whilst we have told her we love her quite as much as ever, and that she is most certainly the senior dog in this household, with senior dog privileges, she continues to be a trifle sniffy. If we give Blackberry toys, she carefully removes them. ‘I shall blow raspberries at this blackberry,’ she says, ‘until she learns some manners.’
It’s funny how guilty you feel, though, at bringing in a new dog when an old one dies. Whilst Blackberry is sweet as jam, I thought it quite right that Crumble didn’t at once welcome her without reservation. After all, Biscuit is still a benign presence in the house. But though it will be strange, I’m going to give Blackberry his old bed to sleep in. Silly as it is, I like to imagine that in her doggy dreams, she can hear him growling ‘respect, Blackberry, respect’.
Onwards and upwards,
Tragedy struck a week ago last Saturday. Biscuit, our old and rather apologetic Jack Russell terrier got out of his bed to discover that his back end was no longer working. Arthritis had finally crept where arthritis has no right to be. We carried him into the garden where, with difficulty, he did what dogs do, then into the car to see if the vet could help. After two injections, one of morphine and the other an anti-inflammatory, we brought him home again where he tried manfully, or dogfully, to haul himself about, and even to get up the stairs. But it was not a happy sight. At lunchtime we discussed possibilities. He was in the room with us. I felt a heel. As the day wore on, he sank into a gloom. I think he knew. He ate his dinner. We ate ours.
On Sunday morning, a decision had to be made, and I made it. Then I e.mailed Clemmie (20) at university. I was anxious for her not to feel that she was not part of this important family event. Eliza (17) and Cosmo (15) lined up at the front door. In the car, Biscuit sat on my husband’s knee. I drove, and missed the turning to the vet, which made us late for our appointment. I don’t like being late.
We weren’t kept waiting. The vet explained this and that, poked and prodded. Biscuit quivered. We all knew what the outcome was going to be. I was pleased that though his eyes were nothing but love and remorse, he tried to bite me as I held him for the jab. I didn’t want him to go quietly into the dying of the light.
It was over in seconds and we laid him out with due dignity. The vet left the room and we remained. Though he looked so peaceful, it was hard to leave him, on that table, although I didn’t cry until much later. ‘Do you want to take him home?’ we were asked, as we paid the bill. £70 is the current price of a dog’s death. We didn’t. Our garden is too small for private burials. ‘Do you want his ashes returned to you?’ We didn’t want that either. Too The Loved One for us. Biscuit shouldn’t end up in a pot. So we took his empty collar and got back into the car. Lunch was a very silent affair.