Yesterday I had my dog “put to sleep”or euthanised or “put down ” ,whatever phrase one likes to use.Saphy (called after thedaughter in Absolutely Fabulous).I altered her name from Saphire.She didn’t look like a sapphire ,although she had a shape of a diamond on her forehead .When I first saw her running around the yard of the person who had been landed with her she was tearing around quite aimlessly ,jumping up on whoever paid her attention,completely deaf to any commands.I should have known then, .she was a dog in search of a job ,a large dog ,a staffy /labrador cross, ideally suited to farm life .And there she was in a suburban backyard with no direction in life .Then she came to my home at the urging of my son ,who thought I needed adog to replace the last one ,
She got larger ,and more in need of a working life.Long runs and walks were not enough She still shied away from any traffic noise or loud voices ,some memory from her previous life I guess.She shed hair everywhere ,and slept on every single chair or rug we had ,leaving her particular Saphy odour and hair .Whenever back gate was open she was out ,and I was forced to walk around the neighbourhood looking for her (I recall at least 2 episodes when we had to pay for other dogs treatment ,both times she was the attacker )She did come when she was seen ,slowly ambling back towards me.She emptied bins whenever she could get to them and as she got older she made for dogs more often .’m trying to be honest here ,her life was pretty boring even when she was a young dog.Her greatest friend was Sally ,who came to take her out and play ball with her .She loved balls ,unfortunately one could only do that for a while as she also had a very annoying high pitched bark .Sally was deaf ,so it didn’t worry her .It did worry the neighbours though.
She grew more irascible and intractable as the years went by .The last few years she lay by the gate and barked at passers by .In between she yelped to be let into the house whenever shut out ,which was often as she smelt more strongly and shed more hair .She had several miraculous ,costly recoveries from injuries.All of the treatment post vet required me to administer a variety of antibiotics several times a day ,and /or dress a wound .This last one was actually acquired at the vet – she did her usual attacking growl at a dog being brought out of one of the rooms ,and the dog bit her.Both the owner and the dog then took off home.I tried for compensation or at least free treatment ,but the best I got was an agreement to try and heal the rather deep wound via antibiotics and bandaging rather than the very expensive anaesthetic and stitching, and the usual “exploratory examination” of suspect lumps and bad teeth “while under.” I changed vets .
By this time there were no more long morning runs as I worked on speed and distance.She finished that when she lunged at a dog walking peacefully with its owner towards us ,thereby tripping me up .Another shoulder injury which kept me from running ,cycling and swimming for about three months .Physio and Pilates costs soared as my love for Saphy diminished.
The last year all was forgiven and “Poor Saphy” was the constant refrain from family members who never walked her ,fed her ,took her to the vet or cleaned up the bins after she slunk through any slight chink in the door .We all had to contend with tripping over her at any time of day or night and remembering to close the back door immediately ,often trapping fingers or dropping things on the way .People whom I met on the slow ,short walks where she stopped at intervals to sniff and pee all commented “lovely old dog”,and were often stupid enough despite my warnings to let their dog move within biting range .Then poor Saphy moved in fast and stronglyfor the bite .I held on tight and yelled at the owner to take their dog away.It got so that each walk was a stressful ,blood pressure raising experience ,rage at my dog ,other dogs ,and the stupid owners .Her legs got stiffer ,her skin condition worse and she became incontinent .
Back to the vet for treatment and the decision was made .
A sense of relief after the last few years of feeling not doing enough for her ,worrying when we went away that some other member of family had to look after her.No more sweeping up the hair from floors and corners and every space No longer did I have to stay on high alert as workmen and family used the back gate .
Do I miss her ? Yes .Sometimes I walk outside and out of the corner of my eye I see this black and white shape,head lowered ,and eyes watching me.Early in the morning I go outside to look at the sky and there is an absence:no dog at my feet.She loved me.