A Tribute To Douglas The Westie

Douglas ‘and Me’ – My Perfect Little Boy

By Karen Lindsey

‘Are you sure he should have ears that look like this? Didn’t the breeder say that he wouldn’t bark?’ I commented whilst peering down onto a pair of somewhat large, pricked up furry ears with one hand holding his tiny frame perched on my lap, the other cupping my ear in a vain attempt to dull the noise of his constant yapping. We had collected our ten week old pup, a bit concerned that we had been duped – we were expecting a puppy that looked like the white dog on the bottle of Buchanan’s whisky.

There they were; pretty, dainty, pups playing beautifully together and there was this little tinker hanging off the ears of his sisters and jumping on the backs of his brothers. When our eyes met, we instinctively knew, however, that he was our Dug. (Aptly named as my Scottish partner had always wanted a pooch he could summon “Where’s me Dug?”)

Doug the Dug was, indeed, as it turned out, a Westie and a little one at that but with a very big personality. So big in fact, as a woman running her own busy events business and a partner who disappeared to work overseas just one day into nursery time, I found I couldn’t cope. Tears streaming down my face, I returned Doug to the breeder begging them to find an alternative loving home. To keep their money but just find a fabulous family for such a special boy – it seemed even then, I had detected a quality about him but I thought at the time I just wasn’t cut out for ‘parenthood’.

You see, he wasn’t so much a puppy but more like the Looney Tune Tasmanian Devil character – although he didn’t have a ferocious appetite, he was an atom full of energy swirling around my house like a tornado. Plagued by guilt but reassured by constant personal affirmations that I had done the right thing, I hesitantly carried on with my life, even though I couldn’t seem to get this little pooch out of my mind. Two weeks later, my partner returned from his travels, deeply upset that Doug the Dug wasn’t thriving in his new home. After promising that he would help with puppy training and that he wasn’t going to disappear at the drop of a hat in the foreseeable future, I reluctantly agreed that if Douglas (as I preferred to call him) wasn’t already re-homed, we could ask for him back.

Thankfully, no one else had shown any interest in this big eared, yappy, bundle of energy – I can’t think why – and so, when I picked him up in my arms, one look into his pebble black eyes, connection was complete. I knew there and then that whatever was thrown at us, we were going to be inseparable, buddies for life!

That was way back in the summer of 1995. On the 1st June 2012, we should have been celebrating his seventeenth birthday but on 17th May, Douglas very sadly passed away.

It is said that ‘A life that is worth living, is a life worth recording’ and although I didn’t keep a ‘Douglas Diary’, I feel that it is fitting to share why he was so very special and for you to hopefully experience a fraction of the joy that he gave me over two decades. My aim is to brighten up your day and help to, unashamedly, brighten mine. I do hope, however, to reinforce any belief you may have of the special bond animals and humans can broker, send loving thoughts to Douglas from as many people as possible and provide some comfort for anyone in the throes of bereavement for a deeply loved pet.

Douglas soon lost his furry ears (alas his bark remained though) and he grew into a most handsome Westie. People often stopped in the streets to congratulate us on what a fine specimen he was and ‘Were we considering showing him?’ Anyone knowing Douglas would instantly appreciate that he wasn’t ‘show’ material. All that primping, all that cleaning, all that being ‘well behaved’. Douglas was a boy through and through, although a very handsome one at that. He became known, slightly tongue in cheek, as ‘perfect boy’.

We soon settled into life with our new family member. A wooden construction was erected in the work place to try to tame the Tasmanian Devil in him and our routine ran relatively smoothly. The office girls would take turns to take him out for his morning walk, he had a comfy bed by my feet and was never short of cuddles and scrubbed ears. Before we knew it, he was a six month old pre-adolescent, still with the energy of a small but mighty atom but no longer caged, more left to his own devices. Unbeknown to me this was to be a big mistake!

Douglas had taken to sitting at the top of the stairs (unfortunately I wasn’t aware of The Dog Whisperer and his teachings back then). The postman had been told not to enter the office on his own as Douglas had started to get inexplicably protective about the girls. It was a sunny day and postie said that he had peered through the glass panelled door. Spotting Douglas relaxed, lying with his paws draped over the top step, he made a decision. A flawed one. To make a run for it. He flung open the front door and streaked like lightning towards the internal downstairs office. Grasping at the handle, he yanked it downwards and threw this door open too – the girls jumped at his unexpected and hasty entrance.

Identifying postie as a threat to his girls’ safety, Douglas launched himself from the top, barely kissing the middle step before landing heavily at the foot of the stairs – the speed that he descended meant that the door hadn’t had a chance to close and with one intuitive leap through the gap, Douglas launched himself once again into the air. As if in slow motion, jaws opening, paws outstretching, he landed on his target and attached himself firmly to the groin of the supposed threat in the fluorescent jacket. What followed was an almighty hoo ha with postie swirling around like a whirlybird washing line – Douglas clinging on like a firmly pegged item of clothing. I too flew down the stairs when I heard the commotion and at the top of my voice scolded ‘Douglas!’ In what seemed an eternity, he finally dropped to the floor, turning to me, wagging his tail as if to say ‘Did I do good? Did I, did I? Frantically searching for his choccie drop which I obviously had hidden behind my back. Meanwhile Mr Postie was clutching his private parts and cursing out aloud, totally oblivious to the fact that Douglas was honouring his self-proclaimed role as guard dog and in fact was, a perfect boy.

After peace offerings of a couple of bottles of brandy, the contents of our first aid box and an assurance that Douglas would once again be secured firmly behind the constructed pen… all was, reluctantly, forgiven. However, I simply couldn’t risk Douglas biting anyone else so the very next day, I took the decision to have his private parts chopped off. Mind you he did get a choccie drop afterwards!

As Douglas grew up he continued, albeit minus his manhood, to still have a somewhat feisty character. Barking at anything and anybody that ventured within sight, whether this be birds flying over his garden, people walking nonchalantly passed a window or animals appearing on a TV screen. His feisty side subsided when he had to go to a dog sitter who bred labradors and he immediately fell in love with the ‘girls’, yes, he was somewhat of a ladies man. He socialised at a very early age, regularly stayed with his girls and related really well to other dogs, especially labs and now chose to see all dogs including ferocious ones as potential playmates! Still spirited, he was ever trustful, ever fun loving. He never bit anyone again but he definitely nipped on occasion – just to let people know he was there and most probably, to bring home the message of who was boss. My stepchildren, niece and nephew’s noses, a policeman’s bum and a soldier’s ankle (that’s another host of stories) were but a few of the nipping occasions but because he was particularly handsome and the fact that he seemed to have a knack of offering a genuine lick of affection at just the right moment, people seemed to thaw and forgive his less than perfect manners. They took him to their hearts. To them he truly was also their perfect boy!

He went everywhere with us; accompanying the family on holidays, chilling by the river (‘chilling’ was more of a ‘hope’ rather than a ‘fact’ as he loved to chase the ducks, bark at the seagulls and leap skyward in a vain attempt to catch the flying kites) and he attended meetings – often at the request of clients where he melted the hearts of the most revered and feared MDs. He was such a popular member of the Leaps & Bounds team, he appeared on the front cover of our company Christmas card which, even today, clients and suppliers still comment upon and remember fondly.

So, boyfriends came and went but Douglas was the permanent fixture. The ‘office guard dog’ and my constant companion and confidante.

If you chose me you also got Douglas and my friend Simon to boot and although my Brother tried to warn my soon-to-be husband, he took the gamble. Douglas and hubby often vied for position but Bryan really knew in his heart that he was on a losing wicket. They basically rubbed along together for twelve years, I can’t say they had a particularly warm relationship, it was never unkind but more a relationship of mutual disrespect. If they had been a couple of bucks, they would have locked antlers on more than one occasion! But, we soon settled into married life and as Dougie matured into a full blown adult of eight years, he still looked like a puppy, was full of life and vitality but just a little more chilled, gentle and loving. The softer, abbreviated name, ‘Dougie’ now seemed to far better suit his character.

I noticed his softer side when my Father died unexpectedly shortly before our marriage. He sensed the grief resonating through the family and always seemed to know when to sit by my side. Just to be there. To make himself available for a stroke, to provide an element of comfort.

He also offered similar support when I was clearly under pressure from an unsolicited situation at work. It has been proved that dogs do, indeed, help to relieve stress and without Dougie and his unconditional offer of companionship, those dark days would have been significantly darker.

It was during his adult years as a sprightly eleven year old that the receptive and more chilled out Dougie embraced Mally into our lives. Mally was a gentle Alsatian/Greyhound who was owned by my dear friend. She came for a two week holiday from London and basically never went back after visiting the seaside. Mally was older than Dougie and was also deaf.

We noticed that Dougie took to looking after her on walks, making sure he was always close by. He was the perfect gent and they too became perfect companions.

When Mally died three years later, this is where we sadly saw the first signs of deterioration of Dougie. He seemed to initially lose his purpose. He was bereaved and took her death to heart. Walks on the beach never seemed to be the same but as time passed, Dougie once again perked up and seemed to enjoy life.

Reaching this ripe old age of fourteen, he walked a little stiffly and had some veteran type ailments including partial loss of hearing and arthritis. He clearly had quality of life but his playful barking seemed to diminish (thank goodness in one way but I missed it in another). It was in January 2011, where old age truly struck and he had to have not one but two eye operations. The end result being that he became partially sighted but that didn’t seem to stop him. Still sniffing away, still weeing on anything and at every opportunity, still enjoying life.

Our walks were getting shorter and shorter because of his arthritis and hampered by his challenging eyesight so Mum offered to buy him a pushchair. ‘A push chair’ I proclaimed. ‘Yes they are all the rage, I read it in an article in the paper. It’s a red and white one is that OK’ she enquired. ‘Fine by me’ I said but it was only when she loaded it out of the car that it became clear that it wasn’t exactly just a red and white mode of transport, it was an England supporter’s pushchair. Classy! Poor Dougie, if he had had better eyesight I’m sure he would have been most vexed – a Scottish doggie being pushed around in an England pram. William Wallace take heart. Far from taking it away, we gave Dougie his freedom!

After much trepidation we embarked on our first outing. Dougie took to it like a duck to water or a Nessy to a loch in his case. It was ourselves that were a little bit hesitant. We did feel a bit uncomfortable and looked a bit strange pushing a dog rather than a baby around in the stroller but I am appreciative and proud that my husband didn’t flinch, he has very broad shoulders. Thankfully, most of the comments from passers by were kind. A handful made impromptu judgements and made unfounded comments of Dougie being ‘the laziest dog they had seen’ but I am grateful that most were caring which retained my faith in human nature. Most dog owners knew something was up and when we told them of Dougie’s age and ailments they praised the ingenious use of the pushchair – we must have sent quite a lot of business to the baby shop, shame we weren’t on commission as this would have helped with the ever increasing vet bills!

In June that year Dougie had been diagnosed with Vestibular Syndrome, a strange balance condition that affects elderly dogs and was also experiencing tummy troubles. And, in October 2011, he lost his sight altogether but in true Dougie and Westie form, a combination of these ailments didn’t seem to faze him and after an initial period of adjustment, he continued to take everything in his stride. I did, however, start to realise that instead of being an owner, I was becoming more and more like Dougie’s carer. Albeit more than willingly.

Although Dougie was still a very handsome boy, he was clearly ageing. He never complained, had a healthy appetite and simply loved being wheeled around in his ‘freedom’ pushchair. It was around this time that niggling thoughts popped into my head on how much time that Dougie and I actually had left together. After all, he was to be seventeen in little over six months which is positively prehistoric in doggie years – the letter from the Queen was way overdue! When I thought about it, I would feel a knot in my stomach and a tear would form in the corner of my eye but I had to start contemplating his future and how best to look after him. I had a conversation with Simon, who had an equally elderly cat and had similar concerns. He told me of this wonderful lady he had found that provided veterinary care within the home. I got in touch with Anna, met her, observed her positive connection with Dougie and instinctively knew she was going to prove to become an important and special person in my and Dougie’s life.

When I thought about it, I would feel a knot in my stomach and a tear would form in the corner of my eye but I had to start contemplating his future and how best to look after him. I had a conversation with Simon, who had an equally elderly cat and had similar concerns. He told me of this wonderful lady he had found that provided veterinary care within the home. I got in touch with Anna, met her, observed her positive connection with Dougie and instinctively knew she was going to prove to become an important and special person in my and Dougie’s life.

We had a difficult conversation about the fears I had relating to when ‘the time came’ (I meant euthanasia of course but I found it near on impossible to actually say the word out aloud in fear of jinxing the precious time Dougie still had left) but it was a conversation I simply had to have as I knew that when the occasion arose I wouldn’t have the strength to talk about it. I was reassured to know that Anna took her time and applied a level of care not usually found in a regular veterinary practice which meant that a painless and stress free sleep was induced.

The conversation had taken place and that was that.

For a few more months, we carried on with our usual routine. Anna monitored Dougie’s medication and needs. We were always mindful to ensure that Dougie had a good quality of life. He no longer barked but because of our bond and the connection between us; a slight tilt of his head, a forward prick of his ears or a certain patter sound of his paws he made on the wooden floor was all that I needed to understand his needs totally.

A day in the life of “Dougie ‘and me’” was governed by routine from the time he got up, to the time he went to bed. We both knew the routine and fell into the flow. A routine which included…

The carrying onto the back garden for his constitutionals and the obliging manner in which he quietly stood close to the bottom step of the decking. There, he waited patiently for me to place my hand gently on top of his shoulders which provided him with the reassurance he needed to confidently make the ascent up the two steps and along the decking vaguely in the direction of the back door. After his early morning wee, Dougie was carried upstairs to a comfy quilt under the spare bed where he went into a deep sleep, whilst allowing me to crawl back into my bed for another hour and half and succumb to the same guilty pleasure.

In my arms, I routinely turned on/off the TV, lamps and heating whilst expertly balancing my precious cargo. A daily and nightly occurrence was the opening and closing of the stair gate (to stave off the risk of him falling down the stairs, again. Thankfully he only hurt his paw on the one and only occasion that this happened – I felt sick to the stomach when it did!) When I think back, I was a master of contortion. Holding him in one arm and resting him on my lifted knee poised on the top of the gate, free hand nimbly opening the catch.

There was also the precise scheduling and dispensing of a wide range of medications and his nonchalant acceptance of such – wrapped like parcels in tasty ham to mask any detection of a tablet.

Sleeping was a bit tough; one ear open so that I could gently guide him to his waterbowl when disorientated or onto one of his three beds when his arthritis played up during the night.

All was well in the world when we took our morning stroll. We regularly bumped into Bonny the Westie, Zeus the veteran Alsatian and Bob the rescue Jack Russell. (Boucan, Elliott and Benjamin were often added to the mix in the evening.) Their owners also succumbing to the timely routine. Dougie’s wagging tailed ensued when he picked up their scent.

I don’t know whether I fitted my work routine around Dougie or the other way round but I emerged from the office regularly for cups of tea with a prerequisite cuddle for him.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was ‘easy on the tummy’ freshly cooked fish which could range from coley, haddock or cod – often salmon was thrown into the offerings of the Plat de Jour but this fact was, on the main, kept from my husband! Although hard work (how I longed for an unbroken nights sleep) I loved caring for Dougie and he loved me for it. Life was sweet and orderly. Thank goodness I worked for myself and from home. Although I kept my meetings to the minimum and restricted the amount of work I undertook, for times when a girl had to visit clients, work at functions and for the occasional respite care, his second home was with my Mum and Step Father where he thankfully received equal quality of care and yielded to a similar routine. Thank goodness for parents.

At the beginning of May, out of the blue, Dougie stopped eating his fish and so I tried other types of food with a modicum of success but he simply ceased showing any appettite at all which made giving him his array of medication worryingly difficult and I noticed he was drinking a lot of water.

It was time to call Anna, our very own Florence Nightingale. She duly inspected Dougie. She was concerned and hesitantly let me know of her worries ‘It could be the kidneys, Karen’ she gently said and after taking various samples, the following day the news was broken – it was kidney failure.

My world came to a juddering halt. Waves of emotion swept over me. It struck me like a thunderbolt that the time I had been trying to prepare myself and absolutely dreading was finally here. I couldn’t quite believe it, I was in a daze. Reality took hold. I knew that I had a tough decision to make.

The following few hours were extremely unpleasant. I tried to keep my emotions in check as I didn’t want Dougie to pick up on my emotional energy which was wavering between rock bottom and cataclysmic. I decided to take him with Mum on his favourite walk and push him along the river to ponder on the unfathomable task that lay ahead. The only question was ‘When?’ During the walk, Dougie seemed to be totally oblivious to my turmoil. Ears pricked forward, tilt of the head to indicate he wanted to get out of the pushchair for his walk accompanied by plentiful wees. I was torn because he looked like he didn’t have a care in the world and he showed no outward signs of discomfort but I knew that his body was basically closing down and he must have been feeling pretty poorly. The decision was made, Dougie’s well-being had to take precedence over my feeling of impending loss and when I got back home, I called Anna and asked her to come the following day. One O’clock was arranged and that proved to be the longest, yet shortest, bleak expanse of time.

That evening, I walked Dougie in his pushchair, painfully aware of the ‘freedom’ irony. Constantly brushing away the tears from my eyes. At home, I cooked all manner of food for him; steak, liver and chicken but all he managed was a slurp of milk but he did have a bit of biscuit – ‘Well’, I thought, ‘what harm can it do him now’. But, he was clearly not himself and at any given opportunity, I scooped him up in my arms to give him a cuddle, tears wetting his milky smelling soft fur. That night I didn’t sleep at all and to be fair Dougie didn’t sleep much either. Just five hours to go, a long time to dwell on our incomprehensible parting but at the same time such a short time left to be with my perfect little boy.

I took him out with a much heavier heart than usual for his morning stroll (thankfully we didn’t bump into his doggie friends and owners as that would have been too much for me to face) and arrived home three-quarters of an hour later. When outside the front door, I registered that Dougie’s ears were pricked forward, I knew he didn’t wish to go home just yet so I walked him in the opposite direction to the park. The half an hour journey was another tear-stained one.

Waves and waves of emotion engulfed me as the realisation set in that this was one of the last walks that I would have with my dear companion. When at the park, Dougie ambled along; weeing, sniffing – he must have been feeling quite poorly but again in true Dougie stoic fashion, not a complaint, not a murmur, just contentment with the simplest of life’s pleasures. I headed towards a bench and sat down. Gently lifting Dougie up into my arms, he relaxed into my body and nestled his head into my neck. He never nestled, he may have been a veteran but he was still a boy through and through but on this occasion, he truly nestled. It was a moment. I felt that he knew the massive significance of that moment as did I. We sat, he smelled the air and we just were as one with nothing but unconditional love flowing between us.

The walk home seemed to take an age but at the same time it was too quick, I didn’t want it to end. When I knowingly parked up his pushchair for the very last time, gently lifted him out and reluctantly turned the key in the lock, before I could take off his coat and guide him to his water bowl, Anna called to say she could come over earlier and so, strangely, without hesitation, I agreed. We had had our moment and it didn’t seem right to delay any discomfort that Dougie was suppressing. The time had come.

I phoned Mum and she immediately left to be with me. Shortly after her arrival, there was a knock at the door, it was Anna. We looked bleakly at each other, all painfully aware that this was the time that we had dreaded. I can only say that although desperately sad, the next hour and a half was very special and memorable. Another defining moment. Whilst relaxed in his bed, I stroked him, love emanating from every pore of my skin, Anna gently gave Dougie a strong sedative and he calmly drifted off into a deep sleep. When Dougie was sound asleep, Anna lifted him onto my lap. Mum said a prayer and when we were ready, he was given his final injection. His heart stopped beating fifteen seconds later but Dougie was blissfully unaware. He had passed over in peace, pain free and with dignity. A fitting end for such a perfect boy. There he lay in my arms another moment between us.

Loss, devastation, my body heaved with distress. Impossible to console. Impossible to explain. Impossible to see any form of light at the end of the tunnel.

My husband, family and friends rallied which gave me comfort but although very touched by their tokens of affection, I knew no amount of cuddles, flowers, cards or texts could truly help me in my hour or forthcoming hours of need. The fact that positive thoughts and prayers were being said for Dougie gave me the most comfort. I am fortunate to have a fantastic, understanding husband, lovely family (heartfelt thanks must go out to my Mum) and such fabulous friends.

Delilah and Simon are two of my ‘enlightened’ friends. My husband unreservedly gave me the space to be consoled by my soul mates and Delilah suggested that we spent the next day doing exactly what I felt like doing. She explained that at the time of Dougie’s passing, she felt it. She felt such love and experienced a glipse of the depth of feeling between us. We walked on the beach, and talked about how a little dog could have so much impact. This particular beach was where Dougie and Mally used to love to come and play. It seemed right to be there and I was acutely aware of every dog and dog owner. I watched as they enjoyed the freedom of the beach and the pleasure they both received from performing the simplest of activities, like throwing a ball into the sea – the dog jumping the waves, paddling madly to retrieve and then bounding out of the water to drop the soggy ball at the grateful owners feet. Tongue hanging out, shaking the sea water from its coat in all directions, tail wagging furiously. I envied them, longed for that opportunity and hoped that they both savoured every moment. We talked about the good times, interspersed with outbursts of my emotion. Back at home, with a photograph of Dougie, flowers from friends and a candle lit in memory of my lovely companion, Simon joined us for the evening and we talked some more. My heart ached just a fraction less.

Talking helped greatly and I felt that I was no longer sinking just in a state of limbo but there is nothing more precious than time to mend your heart. Time most certainly does heal but when in bed, without the comfort of the ‘enlightened two’, I couldn’t help but revert to type and one thought consumed me… ‘How on earth was I going to get through it?’ Involuntary crying restored once again.

I woke early focusing on a picture of Dougie which resurrected the feelings of my huge loss, when out of the blue, a Barbara Streisand song popped into my head. I found myself softly singing the chorus, compulsory tears streaming down my face, whilst looking at the picture (even in my depths of despair, I still registered that I didn’t want Delilah, who was sleeping in the next room, to think that I had totally lost the plot). When the wave passed, I got up and made a cup of tea and didn’t think much more about it. I knew that I was going to have many more emotional outbursts like these and told myself that I just had to let them come.

With a grey cloud seemingly hovering over my head and following my every move, I fiddled around in my kitchen. When Delilah left, I had a bath. Whilst wrapping a towel around me, I felt a need to call the Oracle, Simon, that instant. ‘Thanks for last night Simon’ I weakly said. ‘My pleasure sweetie’ he replied ‘I’m just lying in bed watching Barbara Streisand videos.’ This immediately struck a chord with me. ‘How very strange’ I hastily responded and told him what had happened. We both got goosebumps and instantaneously he played the very song on YouTube through the phone to me. I listened intently to the words, tears once again streaming down my already sodden face. The song was the climax to the film ‘A Star is Born’ and it signified a woman’s love of a partner who had died and how she was always going to love him but was going to survive and to move forward. You could say it was a coincidence but although I know the words weren’t exactly reflective, the relevance was all about the sentiment and the emotion. I like to think that it was a message sent from Dougie as if to say that all was OK, love was abound and go live my life.

I can’t say that the depth of my sorrow dispersed from that moment on but it gave me the strength to do some simple things that seemed to previously be as unsurmountable as climbing Mount Everest in my high heels … I summoned up the courage to pack away his medicines, put his water bowl in a cupboard and place his beds under the spare one in the other bedroom (his favourite sleeping place). I carried around his photograph from room to room and whenever I ventured out I kept his collar and tag in my pocket but, little steps…

Three weeks have nearly passed. I miss his very presence. Whenever I get a wobble, I think how sad Dougie would be if I was upset and how it would hamper him on his journey to future happiness and visa versa. This notion seems to give me a great deal of strength. I thankfully no longer break down at the mere mention of his name, I can hear upbeat music without rapidly reaching to turn the radio off and I have managed to undertake one meeting without reference to Dougie’s passing.

Last week I was visited by the delightful Anna. She brought Dougie’s ashes home. That was another emotional mountain to climb. A couple of days later, on Friday, it was Dougie’s birthday and we buried his ashes in a beautiful blue pot planted with tumbling forget-me- knots. We raised a glass and gave a toast to his wonderful life. I have one significant peak left to climb… to live each day as it comes.

To try my best to fill the void, create some new memories and build a fresh routine – a summit I have to reach in order to, once again, be able to stand tall and see the glorious views.

***

I can appreciate now that it was simply his time. I nurtured him willingly and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. My parting gift was an act of kindness by helping him along his way, completely stress free, before he felt any more poorly and ultimately, any pain. However hard that was, it was the only thing to do. His parting gift to me… his love for all time.

He is now with his doggie friends; Mally Dog, Mr Stanley, Cassie, Shim and Tessa to name but a few and he is also free from his physical restraints and no doubt will be restored to the time when he was most agile, bright eyed and of perfect hearing.

To sum up his character spanning his life. In his early years… playful, noisy, handsome, alpha male, protective, friendly, ‘ladies man’, bossy, adventurous and into his senior years… affectionate, chilled, gentle, instinctive, caring, stoic, accepting, trusting and still very handsome.

Love is simply love. Whether this be with a person, dog, cat or even a goldfish. So, should I hear someone say or question how I could be so touched ‘as after all he was just a dog’. My answer will be ‘Ah, but he was a dog who gave unconditional love and loyalty and he had the most beautiful spirit.’ Now isn’t that what everyone wishes for in a companion?

I feel proud and honoured, blessed to have shared my life with him. We had a connection the moment we met and we will remain connected throughout time. He still has the most beautiful spirit. His life as much as his passing, needs to be recorded and I hope you too find a companion as wonderful as Dougie, my perfect little boy, large furry ears and yapping included.

1st June 1995 – 17th May 2012

I feel that I may have been somewhat indulgent, openly sharing the nostalgic journey of “Douglas ‘and me’”. I hope you will forgive my indulgence as writing this short story has helped me immeasurably. I also hope that I have shared just what made Doug the Dug, Douglas and Dougie so very special and that should you wish, you may like to spare a loving thought for him. And, for those of you who own a pet and have either faced or will undoubtedly face the same situation… some may not feel as acutely, some may totally be able to relate – either way, my wish is to provide some hope that with time and direction, by focusing on the love you shared and the desire of you both for each to go on to lead fulfilled lives, whether this be on earth or in spirit, the sense of loss will subside and will eventually be replaced by eternal love.