"Since our lovely Rough Collie dog, Lady, died a couple of months ago, rarely a day goes by when I do not miss her. Although she'd been my wife Sheila's dog for a dozen years and had been a part of my life for only half that time, she did journey with me in a way that she never could on her morning walks on the Haworth Moor with her mistress.
I recall that when I first discovered I had an incurable blood cancer, it was as though Lady sensed the changing circumstances in my health. Then, as the following few years went by and my mobility started to become affected, Lady started to mirror my symptoms. It was as though we had both started to walk the same path as we journeyed through similar symptoms of ill health. We had both found it harder to walk far and fast, and we each started to struggle whenever we climbed the stairs and descended them.
Most of the days of my year are spent writing stories at my laptop. I work from the kitchen table, where Sheila and I spend most of our days across from each other. Lady used to spend her day on her rug at the table end, between both of us. Every now and then, when Lady thought we might have forgotten she was there, she would nuzzle one of us with her cold nose, looking for a pat of love. Whenever we ate, she would sit obediently awaiting her share of the leftovers, especially when the delicacy was part of a fat pork sausage or a bit of succulent pork pie from 'Lunds the Butcher'.
I still look for her whenever I leave the house and return. I still feel her constant presence in my life and often I find my left hand hanging down at the table end awaiting the wet touch of that compassionate canine tongue. Most evenings, Sheila and I will have a couple of games of scrabble. We are both keen players and show the other no mercy, especially when the tiles fall in our favour. When Sheila wins, she has this habit of wearing that smug look across her face that only women are capable of shamelessly adopting, disguised by a winning smile of silent satisfaction as she puts the game away in its box until the next time we play. Whenever I win, I tend to stand up proudly at the end of the game and strut from the room gloating, 'Make way, make way, make way, Lady! Make way for the king; the king of rummy, the king of scrabble, the king of everything!'
And despite Lady having passed away these past few months, I still find myself reciting this mantra as I walk around her shadow and hear her infectious bark once more in my mind's eye as she acknowledges my victory. Each meal I eat, I still find myself leaving a small portion on the side of my plate to give to Lady.
The one thing that Lady and Sheila undoubtedly shared was 'that look'. It is that look which all young girls first discover whenever they want a treat from daddy! It is that look of maidenhood that is capable of capturing the heart and imagination of any confirmed bachelor she wants to marry! It is that look of loss that cries out for fulfilment and melts the hardest of hearts! It is that look which is capable of taking the last morsel of food from your mouth and eating it with relish! God bless you, Lady; we miss you lots." William Forde: November 26th, 2016.