Friday, 23 July 2010

So. It's been nearly 3 years since I said goodbye. Perhaps too long. Perhaps time enough. Either way, here I am, and there we were, in Brighton.

It was around about this time that I developed a hunger like I'd never felt before. It gripped me inside and led me to eat anything and everything, regardless of whether it was edible or not. Chip wrappers...rotten fish bones...seaweed...stones...driftwood...any poo I came across, including my own...My tiny belly just kept getting fatter and fatter yet it never felt full. I was like a scrawny barrel on scrawny legs, if you can picture such a thing.

What you have to understand at this point is that Eyes had never brought up a pup before, having been brought up herself with cats. She'd been around enough to know the basics, but some things were a mystery to her. And she was young, so young. Just 17, and barely able to look after herself. No wonder she struggled with me at times. Man, however...Well, I'm not sure about him. He really had no excuse. For any of it.

Eventually, however, it became clear that all was not well, and I found myself paying my first ever visit to the Vet.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

In 10 days time...

In 10 days time, a whole year will have passed since Mad Dog left for the Bridge. I still miss him horribly, and no doubt always will, but enough time has now gone by that it's time I got back to telling his story.

I originally planned to write under this, my own username, once he had gone. But he still feels so close each and every day that it feels right for him to continue under his own name, for a little longer at least. He tells it so much better than I can, after all.

So...Over to you, dear sweet Mad Dog. You live on through your memories and your words.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Happy 14th Birthday Mad Dog.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

A couple of poems for and from my precious boy.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.
Author unknown.

The Legacy

When humans die, they make a will
To leave their homes and all they haveto those they love.
I, too, would make a will if I could write.
To some poor wistful, lonely stray
I leave my happy home,
My dish, my cosy bed, my cushioned chair, my toy.
The well loved lap, the gentle stroking hand,the loving voice,
The place I made in someone's heart,
The love that at the last could help me toa peaceful painless end
Held in loving arms.

If I should die,
Oh do not say,
"No more a pet I'll have,to grieve me by it's loss"
Seek out some lonely, unloved dog
And give my place to him.
This is the legacy I leave behind -'tis all I have to give.
Author unknown.

It's been a while.

It's been a while since I was able to face this Blog. About 4 months, in fact. I knew it would hurt when Mad Dog went to Rainbow Bridge, but I had no idea quite how much. He's been my companion and my rock for my entire adult life, and the space he has left behind is hollow and raw.

I can shut my eyes and see every part of him. I can start from his long grey nails (always a battle to keep trimmed) and those big bony white paws that he never quite grew into; I can work my way up his foxy front legs which only looked black from a distance - close up they were chestnut and golden and every colour in between; I can picture his white fuzzy chest, and how when you rubbed his armpits his back legs would tickle, way back before his nerves let him down and the link between the two was severed; the way the white crept a little way around his neck, and under his chin, ruffling up under his collar; his smooth black muzzle and how it greyed over the years, each new white spot a badge of a battle fought and survived if not always won; his funny flappy tongue from the incident with the chilli when he was 4 months old; the little scar on the very tip of his lip from when he leapt out of the shopping trolley the third day I had him; the long white blaze which had seemed so big and broad when he was tiny, but which never grew with the rest of the dog so it got narrower as he got bigger; those deep brown eyes and all the things they saw but shouldn't have; the wide and velvety ears, and all the things they had to say to those who could read their secrets...

I can go on like this for the whole dog. I can tell you about every inch, from the white spot on the back of his neck to the white tip that he had on his tail before he lost it. I can tell you where that tail started from and where it ended up. I can bore anyone who's daft enough to listen on the subject and still have stories to tell. But none of it brings him back.

Both Mad Dog and I were homeless when we met, and we built our world together, through the very worst of times to the present day. He stuck by me whilst I made what some would see as unforgiveable mistakes, and allowed myself to be used by the lowest of people. But he never judged, and he never will...He just stayed by my side until I reached a point where he felt I was safe. I now have a secure home and a happy healthy family. To this end, his legacy is the bricks and mortar that surround me and the love within them. After much thought, we have a new canine in our midst now, a rescue dog who needed a forever sofa. She'll be along shortly to introduce herself, I have no doubt. In the meantime it's enough that Mad Dog - or Dogger, as he was affectionately known once I passed the age at which my original choice of name seemed like a good one - would approve. He didn't hang on all that time to see this haven created to just look down from the Bridge and watch it going to waste.

Was he ready to go? I think so. In fact I know so, he was waiting for me to be ready rather than the other way around - he probably would have been just as happy to go a few weeks before. But it had to be the right time for both of us, and he knew that.

The morning that he went, I came downstairs to find he had soiled himself completely, and was lying on the cold floor where he had kicked all his bedding to one side in an attempt to cover up. His nerves has gone so badly he couldn't even drag himself away from the mess, and the look on his poor dear face was of shame and humiliation. After I picked him up and carried him out to his favourite sunny spot in the garden, I looked out of the window and knew that it was time. His quality of life had finally gone, and it would be cruel to force him to carry on for my sake.

Two hours later, and after much consideration, we decided it was best to take him to the vet rather than have the vet come to us. We wanted his passing to be as calm as possible, and he trusted them there. At home, we'd have had hysterical kids and no peace, which above all else is what Mad Dog deserved at the end. Peace.

We pulled up in our usual spot outside the surgery, and I climbed into the back seat to say goodbye to my first love for the last time. I sat there with him and for the first time in over 13 years he let me wrap my arms right around him and hold him tight. He laid his head on my shoulder and nuzzled my neck as I cried into his fur. I told him I was sorry, so sorry, that there was nothing more I could do. I was sorry I had failed him at the last post, but couldn't bear to see him suffer any more. At that point he made a huge effort and shifted his face up to mine to lick away my tears. He knew what was happening, and he was saying "it's ok".

The vet came out and I let him go, whilst R leaned in to carry him through the door for his final journey. I didn't trust my legs, unreliable as they are, not to let me down. But he was unable to lift Dogger at the last minute, so fierce were the tears rolling down his face, so in the end I took him myself. I didn't let go of my boy until his paw had been shaved, and the drugs had eased him on his way. I held him and smoothed his head as he relaxed, truly free of pain and discomfort for the first time in years. Then he gave a great sigh and his body went slack, whilst his soul leapt up and ran away to freedom.

His body was cremated and is in a box looking down on where I sleep when I am home. That comforts me. He lives on through his memory - they remember him at his vet, and in most places that he visited regularly in his last years, as well as here at home - and his legacy. He will never be forgotten. He taught me how to trust, and how to love.

Goodbye dear, precious Mad Dog. See you at the Bridge.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Sad News.

Mad Dog was helped to die at 12.15 this afternoon, 28th October 2007. He went peacefully. It was his time.

I will continue his blog on his behalf when the tears have cleared.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

SNAPSHOTS: Brighton by night, June 1994

The Palace Pier, as it was called then. Up the steps to ground level and the first thing to see and smell was the doughnut stand. 5 for a pound, a warming snack to set the night's adventures off to a good start. Through the golden arches and out along the boards, the water rushing in beneath my feet. Peering nervously over the edge and breathing in the smell of the sea. Padding along it'slength, pausing to be lifted so I can peer through windows and into bright cases. Tinkling laughter and shouts of fun from the visitors from that other world which isn't our world, the world which does not know that this is our roof as well as their playground.

Down the steps on the other side to run along beneath the prom, letting off steam before the night begins in earnest. To our right, beach huts set into the wall, havens for the taking if only we'd thought of it sooner. To the left, shingle and then darkness. The whole area deserted late on, just me and Eyes, together with no-one else to get between or disturb our peace.

Along the front itself, there we were, a stark piece of the dirty reality of the town beneath it's anarcho-holiday exterior. Bright lights and dim futures. The all embracing society of leisure which left us out, heads turning and people tutting as they passed us by. Everyone's welcome in Brighton. The dirty hippies just add to it's alternative credentials. So long as they don't actually want to come in, that is.

The fabulous Royal Pavilion. A little piece of fantasy and folly in a world gone mad. Learning to sit and lie down in the lights, framed insanity at it's very best. How could anything be wrong with the world when you can turn the corner and find yourself in another one as quickly as this?

The Victoria Arcade, where we finally found the perfect place to busk. Halfway down, blending in with the mosaic, with acoustics that made even the breathy and jaded sounds of a busker in her fourth continuous hour sound like something direct from the heavens. Watching the faces of our audience as they turned the corner, looking for the source of those angelic, rippling sounds, only to be crestfallen when the spy the dirty and crumpled heap which makes up Mistress and Dog. The shine of the flute a surreal addition to the scene. The number who turned away, listened again, then returned shamefaced to drop. Their guilt is our living, their mall our concert hall, covering a multitude of weary musical sins.

The Laines. The alternative heart of Brighton, where even we didn't look out of place. Padding down narrow streets and through well-lit alleys, always ready to be surprised and never disappointed. So long as we kept to the dark hours, when no-one could see the ingrained grime on our faces and in our coats, we fitted in here. In daylight, even the head shops watched us and judged us, the very people who their customers were pretending to be. They didn't know what it was really like, when the wind whipped through under the prom and the rain and spray flew straight in off the ocean into our beds. Crusty was cool in the early and mid-nineties, in more ways than one.

Brighton. The only city in England where you can feel like you belong no matter how much people want you to vanish back into the hole from which you emerged. Alternative capital of the UK. Alternative hell in disguise.