This blog began as a project for my Masters. I decided I would write in the voice of my dogs and most of the blogs would be by Buzbuz, my now 12 year old dog, with the occasional comment from her mum, Cinderella.
I’m so very sad to write this blog as myself but I can’t really write this one as Buzbuz.
I want to write about Cinderella who died four weeks ago today. It has been too upsetting to write anything before now, but I’m going to try today, though I’m already crying. Again.
Cinderella and Buzbuz came into my life a month after I’d had to put to sleep my beloved Border Terrier, Luigi. I’d never owned an older dog before. Luigi was only nine when he died and my first dog, Alfredo, was hit by a car when he was five. I was devastated at losing Alfredo, and then again with Luigi, and everyone, seeing how distraught I was, recommended I take a break from dogs. That I should give myself some time to recover. That I should avoid future dog-related heartbreak.
It was impossible for me to ‘take a break from dogs’. I didn’t see how that would mean anything other than more sadness and so I adopted the then nine year old Cinderella and her baby, Buzbuz, who was five.
I was lucky to have Cinderella for almost seven years. She was funny, beautiful and always a character – a mis-shaped dog with a too-long body and enormous ears that she would unfurl to express her demands for more cuddles and more goodies – she would sleep in sock drawers, climb inside wardrobes and become ‘lost’, she would sit on my chest when I was lying on the sofa and use those ears to tell me things I wish I’d properly understood, she would huskily bark at every dog and the occasional cow she came across, she would prance rather than run, with her tail held high, up and over her back.
My children loved her. She was cuddled and carried and danced with and fussed over. She’d never lived with children before she came to us but she quickly knew that she was the type of dog that all children seemed unable to resist.
In her later years she slowed down. It all happened quite quickly. She developed heart problems and stopped running unless there was something really fun to chase. She would bark at squirrels from the back of the sofa but she no longer did it with the same enthusiasm. We’d find her making her way up the stairs to my room (and her bed) at about 8pm, an early-to-bed old lady.
I’m still not sure what happened four weeks ago. Yiannos and I went away for a weekend, and we were staying at a dog-friendly hotel in the Cotswolds. Sometime over the weekend Cinderella must have suffered something like a stroke. We’re not sure when or how. We went home and saw the vet who said we were near the end. She’d stopped eating and had to be fed water with a pipette. And so I held onto her for two more days, sitting on the sofa with her on my lap and Buzbuz at my feet. I carried her for a couple of walks through the forest, wrapped up in a blanket, and friends who saw us said they’d come with me to the vet, if I needed someone with me. That it was time.
In the end I took her to the vet by myself. I hoped he’d say there was a chance and she’d turn a corner and all would be well. But I knew in my heart that she was already gone. She always had a little mischievous light in her eyes and now there seemed to be nothing. And so I put her to sleep and bought her back home and buried her in the garden.
I’ve buried three dogs now. While I’m better at the practicalities than I was the first two times – I know it’s better if I dig the hole before; that I put heavy stones on top of the grave – I’m just as devastated at the loss. And I know that I will be with every dog I’m lucky enough to have.
Dog-walking friends in the forest ask me where she is and each time I explain I burst into tears. They all understand. Most of them have been here themselves. It’s the only horrible part of having a dog. An immense love. A life that’s always too short. We all love our dogs so much. We don’t need to explain to each other than they are our family.
Buzbuz is coping. I think she knew what was happening. I wish more than ever that I knew what she was feeling. I think she understands that Cinderella has gone and I think Cinderella would have said her own goodbye.
We will always miss her.