The pain of losing a dog

The pain of losing a dog

When your world ends.

It’s taken a week to compose myself to write this. I’ve had a few bad days in my life, but this one took the prize. It’s all about when your world ends.

As you get older late nights and early morning don’t seem to go together quite so well. So the 16th May 2018, was like most mornings recently, a bad nights sleep, snuffling from hayfever and a mornings’ start that’s far too early.

There’s a standing joke in my house of an assault course to get around the bed in the morning, dodge Tatters and Quattro, the cats, step over the washing basket and several Peli cases of equipment, vault the baby gate, greet Harry who is waiting for me patiently to rise, albeit with a gentle whimper until he see’s dad, then make him wait patiently whilst I have my morning pee, before letting him out into the garden.

Harry loves the fact that we have a garden now, most of all he loves to run up and down the fence line and bark at whatever passes by despite not being able to see what it is. From school kids to busy contractors or passing dogs, Harry will have a squabble with them all. The neighbor’s must think our sofa dwelling long dog is a ferocious beast, yet if he were to see them, he’d be the first to want to play.

The coffee machine gurgles and crackles its liquid caffeine into a cup, whilst I scrub my face and throw on some clothes, ready to hit the road. In search of a peaceful life, I try and get out the door before the boys’ dad collects them on a Wednesday morning for school. I turn my car and head on my way, all just before the 8 o’clock chime of the news hit the radio.

The next few minutes would change my world forever.

Making my way along the road, left at the first roundabout, under the bridge and right at the next roundabout, heading along Hamesmoor Road, I get a call from my partner screaming down the phone that I needed to go back.

Harry had been hit by a car.

With a background in Search and Rescue, I’m no stranger to the adrenaline rush of an emergency, but the rush of emotions cover everything – anger at the drivers in the way oblivious of the clock ticking and most of all the overwhelm that I knew deep down this wouldn’t end well, and not knowing what to expect when I arrived home.

When the boys had opened the door to greet their dad, Harry had used the opportunity to bolt, first doing a lap of honor with the boys chasing behind down the cul-de-sac, a fantastic game he must have thought, before returning past the house, running full speed into the road in front of an unsuspecting motorist.

In a few moments, which felt like a lifetime, I met my partner Leanne, at the vet’s, after passing in queuing traffic. Still in her pyjamas, distraught and emotional, she and some passers-by had cradled Harry into the boot of a ladies car, to get him to the vet.

I composed myself, and approached the boot of the car that had my beloved boy inside whilst Leanne ran to get the Vet.

Fighting with cars isn’t a good idea Harry.

It’s a lesson I should have taught him more. As I laid my eyes upon him, I could see the scuffs and scrapes he had taken. First checks, no broken legs, scuffs scrapes, but blood pumping from his neck.

Triage mode kicking in I barked orders to the vet nurse to get swabbing and I put pressure to stop the bleeding, stroking his beautiful face re-assuring him daddy was here. The vet was still not at work.

The vet surgery near us was amazing, they called and got advice, and soon administered Harry some Methadone to help ease his pain, whilst we struggled to get the stretcher blanket beneath him in the cramped boot of the Volkswagen UP. With each movement Harry yelped with pain, only raising his head, not with the adoration and greetings for his daddy, but to let out a curdling yelp asking us to stop.

Slowly the drugs kicked in and Harry’s eyes started to turn glassy, I’m not so sure he knew I was even there at this point. Stroking his face and his soft feathered ears. Telling him how much I loved him. Knowing that his breathing was becoming more and more laboured. Now and then the vet nurse would check his capillary reflex at his lips, which had turned grey and check his blinking reflexes, which had become slow and lifeless.

Soon the vet arrived and listened to Harry’s heart and chest. The vets’ words’ so quietly spoken I struggled to hear, my bloody hearing, we were told of the internal injuries that we just couldn’t see.

Sobbing helplessly, I watched as my puppy, my best friend and my confidant lay in the boot of a strangers car, slowly drifting further and further away from me.

We had weathered the toughest storms. Survived being homeless. Being broke. Ill health. And after what seemed like a lifetime apart we had managed to be reunited in February 2017 after Harry was fostered for a while so I could get my life back together.

The day I collected Harry from Cath Pickles kitchen, I had driven the long drive to the depths of Suffolk, worrying if my puppy would still know me. I will never forget creeping into Cath’s kitchen, and a black hairy face popping through the cat flap and giving me his usual howl greeting telling me that I had left him behind. The kisses and wagging tail that ensued for almost an hour after, reminded me that the bond between man and dog was forever and no matter how hard life had been, I had made the right choices.

Stood covered in blood and tears streaming down my face, cradling my puppies’ head as best I can in the boot of a car, I now have to make the decision to send Harry across the rainbow bridge.

There was no choice to be made, it’s always been in my heart to do what’s best for Harry, even when we were sleeping rough, if we were short of money, he would eat, if he was sick then the vet was paid and I would go hungry, I slept in my car until I could find a home for me and my hound. So, I kissed my friend and slowly the vet gave Harry the injection whilst I tenderly stroked his face watching my partner in crime fade before me.

I’ve learnt over the last decade or two that nobody stays around for long, friends come and go, family decide to go their own way, but this wasn’t how our story was supposed to end Harry. We had so many adventures still to discover, beautiful places to visit, beaches to run on, rabbits to chase.

The pain of losing a dog

Dog Photographer Jamie Morgan and his Saluki Lurcher, Harry.