"One knows nothing of true embrace until one has hugged their pet after a long absence. Until one has loved an animal as endearingly as any human, one's heart has not been fully opened or one's soul truly awakened. Hugs are the universal language of love embraced by all animal lovers and lovers of mankind.
Preparing for the final absence of a pet is very hard to bear and it makes every day they continue to be around one more special day to treasure. I once knew an elderly man called Charlie from Brighouse. Charlie was a vagrant and had little money to spare and existed from week to week on social security benefits. However little money he had though, and however hungry he got from time to time, he never failed to feed his beloved dog. As far as Charlie was concerned, his dog came first in all considerations. His dog was one of those extremely small breeds, and although it was the mongrel product of a street romance between 'The lady and the tramp,' it was always at Charlie's side. More often than not, particularly in wet or cold weather, one would approach Charlie in the street before seeing his small dog, snuggled inside his overcoat collar.
The death of Charlie's dog was the talk of the town when it eventually happened. Initially, after the dog had died from old age, Charlie entered a stage of denial and refused to accept his pet had passed away. Indeed, poor Charlie seemed to lose it after the death of his pet and refused to dispose of its body. He still filled its eating bowl and during his first week of bereavement, he still walked it, carrying its corpse inside his overcoat. Charlie had to be eventually committed to the old Storthes Hall Psychiatric Hospital in Huddersfield and received ECT shock treatment. My late mother was a patient at Storthes Hall Hospital at the time; herself having incurred a nervous breakdown. After mum had returned home, I never heard of Charlie again.
Sadly, our Rough Collie, 'Lady' is now entering her final stages of life and it is impossible not to note the gradual changes in her overall appearance, daily functioning and general behaviour. Where her coat was once thick, it is now much thinned and covers a corresponding loss of weight. She walks more slowly and for less distance, and now spends most of her day curled up on the rug, sleeping. One can feel the pain in her stride and the uncertainty as she tries to negotiate a few steps. She has even lost her bounce and bark upon her first greeting of the day and no longer runs to fetch the thrown ball, but instead stares at it like a cat might, as she thinks, 'You're the one who threw it; you fetch it!'
No longer has she the stamina to walk the moors each morning with Sheila as she approaches the winter of her life. She returns from her morning outing shattered. It is very sad to see her tail become thinner; it reminds me of the lowering of one's flag. She still possesses those sad eyes that all pets and partners seem capable of displaying, whenever they want something, and she has most certainly become more clingy to Sheila and follows her faithfully all day long, like a shadow who might disappear when the sun goes down. The one thing she remains constant of, is her need for a hug. Like all humans, dogs never grow too old to appreciate a cuddle.
I believe that all dogs were created by God to keep mankind more alive. When Lady dies, I know that both me and Sheila will find the loss hard. We will hopefully find consolation in each others loving arms and also in the thought that there is no death, only a change of worlds where new coats grow ever more splendidly." William Forde: August 23rd, 2016.