A farewell tribute to a faithful friend
SPANNER 20/09/2005 - 16/01/2020
FAREWELL TO YOU, MY FAITHFUL FRIEND.
It is with immense sadness that I see the weight falling off you and it only serves to accentuate the lumps under your skin. I know they are tumours and they are wreaking havoc on your body. I also know that you are considered old for a dog of your breed and these kinds of health issues are commonplace. But you are not commonplace; you have been an exceptional companion, friend and protector.
You came to my home as a little scrap of a dog that was destined for the SPCA, and, most likely, euthanasia. "Does anyone want this puppy?" they said. "If not, it's going to the SPCA tomorrow." Just another example of the callousness of humankind who allow their dogs to breed every season rather than take the trouble to sterilise them. My heart goes out to your poor little mother whose body was ruined from having litter after litter and the puppies who were given away to just anyone who asked with no thought of a home check to see if the homes they offered were genuine or suitable.
You were the lucky one because your human father, my husband, took one look at this little scrap of dog and said "I'll take it". And so you came into my life fourteen years ago, a tiny little white thing with black spots and a tail that never stopped wagging. We called you Spanner. Your father loved you. Oh how he loved you. I fed you and bathed you but he spoilt you and gave you titbits. He played with you and let you sit on his lap while watching TV. Never was a dog more loved and you adored him too.
A week later, another precious being came into our lives; the dearest little tortoiseshell kitten who was also destined for the SPCA because the family who adopted her could no longer keep her. The mother of the family had cancer and the kitten aggravated her allergies and make her sick. We know that kittens and cats are often euthanaised at the SPCA because homes are so scarce and so we adopted little Paris and the two of you were babies together. You were our only dog at the time but we had two older cats, Magic and Merlin, who accepted you into the household and you soon established your position as top dog.
Life went on and your father got sick. A stroke laimed his whole left side but with great determination and courage he exercised and within a year the effects of the stroke were physically invisible. Sadly, inside his brain the damage had been done and the depression and mood swings that followed affected our family, all except you. You were always there for him, cuddling up to him and staring up at him with those beautiful brown eyes like liquid chocolate. No matter how grumpy or sick he felt you could always make your father laugh and we had glimpses of the happy-go-lucky person he used to be.
The doctor explained that a stroke leaves a chemical residue in the brain that was much like clinical depression and it eventually became too much for your father and he took his life. I often wonder what you thought and how sad you must have felt that you couldn't make him laugh with a lick and a cuddle as always. I know that as he sat in the garden with the gun to his head you would have been sitting next to him because wherever he went, you went too. I was visiting friends that day and he planned to do it while I was away but you, my faithful friend, would have been sitting right alongside him, sensing his anguish. I am so comforted that his last moments were not spent alone but were spent with the one being he loved most in the world, besides me.
I am so sorry that you had to experience the loss. We humans tend to forget that animals also feel sadness and loss and it was such a shock to me that I really didn't think about you and what you had witnessed. You not only carried the burden of loss but the knowledge that your most treasured human was hurting in a way that you probably understood but couldn't do anything about.
Life slowly got back to normal, as it always does, in spite of the heartache. We settled into a way of life on our own - just you and I and the 3 cats. In time we adopted Rafie, the little puppy who had been thrown out of a car and dragged. He was badly injured and broken but you were so gentle with him and took on the role of big brother. Even after his broken body healed you remained a gentle companion and he acknowledged and respected your position as alpha dog, as he does to this day. Humankind's throwaways are endless and our family grew with the adoption of Roxanne and Shazzie. All the dogs and cats deferred to you except for Merlin, the fat cat. He had the personality of a behemoth and you wisely gave him a wide berth.
Four years later a new husband came into my life and we moved home and new rules were set which you resisted for a while just as you challenged him for the position of alpha male. I felt caught between you but as you realised that he wasn't a threat to you and your position in the household was secure you dropped your guard and accepted him.
I look at you now, fourteen years later and I see the ravages of old age. The thunder no longer bothers you because your hearing is failing and you no longer jump on me when I bring your meals. It used to irritate me when you jumped like a crazy thing but now I would give anything to see you jumping mindlessly just for the pure joy of it. Just your eyes remain the same deep liquid chocolate with such a bright light of devotion in them. I love you, my sweet Spanner, and my heart aches as I recognise the changes in your body that old age brings. I have learnt over the years that animals carry an innate wisdom so I know that you know how and why your body is failing you. I wish I could reverse the time and give you more years. I know that that's impossible but I also know that when your time comes to cross the Rainbow Bridge your daddy will be waiting on the other side with his arms outstretched and his heart bursting with love and joy.
Before you cross over into the land where all dogs and people are happy and healthy, their ailments healed, I want to acknowledge you as being the sweetest natured, most loving companion any human being could wish for. Before your gentle heart stops beating I want you to know how I love and cherish you. I know somewhere in the recesses of my mind that the time may come when pain dulls the light in your eyes and I may have to assist your crossing over to spare you suffering. Even though my heart is breaking and my eyes are blind with tears I will hold you in my arms as the vet does the necessary and I will continue to hold you until your beautiful eyes close and your loving heart stops beating. I will call upon the Angels to come for you and walk with you across that Rainbow Bridge until you are reunited with your dad. Farewell, my faithful and loving friend. I love you, Spanner.
It has come to pass and the vet said the cancer is inoperable and has spread into the liver and possibly the spleen. Today is a day of immense sadness and mourning but I held you as you crossed the Rainbow Bridge and I know that Archangel Michael walked with you across the bridge to that wonderful place where all dogs go. I also know that you are safe in the arms of your beloved father who came to receive you with love and joy and guide you home. May your sweet soul fly high with the Angels, my gentle boy. Happy birthday in heaven, Spanner.