Pets

Goodbye to a dear friend.

Gus snoozing in the conservatory
Gus snoozing in the conservatory

Last Saturday my dog, Gus, reached the end of the road. He was fourteen years-old and he had been showing his age for a while but I had just kept hoping that a miracle would happen. Sadly, it didn’t.

I got Gus at a particularly difficult time in my life. I had recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, and the prognosis wasn’t good. My old dog had died while I was in hospital and I assumed that was it, that I would never own another dog; however, my daughter thought differently. They say that parents know their children but children also know their parents and Vicky certainly knows me inside out. ‘You need another dog,’ she told me firmly. ‘Not a pup, but an older dog for company.’

I protested that it wasn’t the right time, that I wasn’t well enough to look after a dog, that I didn’t need the hassle when it took me all my time to look after myself, but Vicky would have none of it. She and Jamie, my lovely son-in-law, whizzed me off to a rehoming centre and insisted that I looked around. I did so reluctantly, determined that I wasn’t going to give in. And then I saw Gus, a nine year-old, black brindle Cairn terrier, and that was it – I knew I had to have him.

Gus settled in immediately. Although he’d had several previous homes, he obviously felt that he belonged to me from the outset. So long as he knew I was there, he was happy. As for me, well, I am in no doubt that Gus helped to save my life. I had to get fit, I had to keep going because Gus depended on me, so slowly but surely I regained both my fitness and my confidence.

Soon Gus and I were going for long walks over the fields together, playing ball in the garden, and snuggling up on the sofa to watch television each evening. The future that had seemed so bleak just months before now looked very different. Maybe my cancer couldn’t be cured but, by heaven, I could still enjoy life! I decided that I would get the most out of each and every day whether it was going for a walk, playing with my grandchildren or writing. I had such a lot to be thankful for, such a lot to look forwards to as well.

So will I get another dog at some point? I said I wouldn’t but in my heart I know that I will. I don’t think I’ll have a choice actually seeing as Vicky is already checking the websites of several local rehoming centres!

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20 thoughts on “Goodbye to a dear friend.”

  1. Gorgeous post, Jennifer. And rest in peace Gus. What an awesome fellow he was put there to help you over hurdles. Big hugs on the loss of such a fabulous friend and playmate. I’m sure the next dog will have the soul of Gus in him as well. Lots of love Fi

    1. Thanks, Fi. I still keep looking for Gus whenever I get up. I always had light coloured dogs before him and the number of times I fell over Gus in the dark doesn’t bear thinking about! He will definitely be a hard act to follow.
      love,
      Jennifer.

  2. *Sniff. My old darling is 14 in exactly a month and just over these last few weeks she really looks and acts it. We know our time together is limited and my heart will totally shatter but I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel for you – the gaping hole dear old Gus will leave, but I also know the life he has brought to you because that’s what dogs do. Can I say thank you for giving an old boy a new chance at a happy life? I know he helped you as much as you helped him, but you took that initial risky chance! Wishing you many happy memories, the opportunity to find another forever friend, and happiness,health and peace in your own life!

    1. Thanks, Clare. Watching your beloved pet growing old is hard, isn’t it? All I can say is that Gus and I had some wonderful times together and he gave me far more than I gave him. I shall always be glad that I adopted him.
      Hope your little girl stays well for a while longer. I shall be thinking about you both.
      love,
      Jennifer

  3. Jennifer,
    I’m sorry to hear about Gus. I know you wil miss him. Dogs become part of the family so easily. I look forward to hearing about you new family member soon. .

    1. Thanks Susan. The house feels empty without Gus bustling around. I don’t think I shall be able to resist getting another dog to love.
      Jennifer

  4. Oh Jennifer – what a beautiful story. You’ve made me cry, but in a good way. Pets can bring life back to us when we’re struggling to keep it together. They’re a blessing, and from your blog – you were a blessing to Gus as well. You gave him purpose again, and he made sure his lady was happy.

    My husband had such a hard time after losing both of our dogs, he waited two years to get another. After the second dog died, he said never again. Well, he isn’t the only one in the house, so when he asked me a year and a half ago what I’d like for my birthday, I told him a dog of my choice. How could he refuse a birthday wish? I’m thrilled to have found my Milo from a dog shelter, too.
    Dogs offer unconditional love and bring joy into our lives. Who doesn’t need that?

    Please keep us posted on any new furry friends that may wander your way.

    1. I know how your husband felt, Lynne. Many years ago when I lost my first dog I couldn’t bring myself to replace him. However, after a while I did and never regretted it. I’m sure your Milo has landed on all four of his furry feet. He’s a lucky dog to have you to love and care for him.
      Jennifer

  5. Hugs, Jennifer. Our family dog passed on Boxing Day in 2005. I was pregnant with my second child at the time and I had recently watched our family dog while my parents moved to be closer to me and their grand children. I remember picking up a toy she’d left and thinking I had to get it back to her and got the call. I was devastated and it took me a REALLY long time to get over her. We didn’t get a dog, as we don’t have time for a dog, but we got a couple of guinea pigs and I can feel my heart opening again. Especially since they follow me around when I’m cleaning their cage or giving them lettuce every morning. Pets can really take a piece of your heart.

    1. Amy, it’s so hard, isn’t it? I just found Gus’ ball behind the chair and had a little cry. How amazing that your guinea pigs follow you about. I had no idea they would do that. Lovely to have pets, especially for your children.
      Jennifer

  6. Oh, Jennifer our 11 year old girl dog, Lallie, died on Saturday just gone too 😦 She was a black lab. It was such a heartbreaking day for us all so I really feel for you. Lucky for us we still have her brother, Fonzie, but he’s getting on too so I know our time with him is also running out.
    Big hugs from me xxx

    1. Oh, Amy I can’t believe that you are going through the heartache of losing a beloved dog too. Big hugs to all of you. Fingers crossed that Fonzie keeps going for a while longer.
      love,
      Jennifer

  7. Big hugs Jennifer, and to Amy as well. What a faithful friend Gus was, and I’m sure that he appreciated all your love and companionship too. I hope that your daughter persuades you to find another dog and that he brings you just as much happiness.

  8. Thank you, Annie. Gus will be a hard act to follow but Vicky is doing her best. And when Vicky sets her mind to something….Well!
    love,
    Jennifer

  9. What a beautiful post, Jennifer! We’ve lost a couple of beloved dogs over the course of our lives as well. It’s so hard to open your heart again after it’s broken, but somehow it happens. After I lost my cat to cancer three years ago, I swore I’d never get another one. But here we are with our grandkitty (who is now living with us) and a pug. And when that cat sprawls on my lap and stares up at me purring, it’s impossible not to melt.

    Hugs to you during this time!

  10. Sorry to hear about your dog Jennifer, but I’m crossing my fingers that your next post will show us your new companion xx

  11. Oh, Jennifer, I am sniffing I to my weeties here. I am so glad you had Gus. Pets are such great companions even if they do wee on the carpet now and then, she says glaring at her cat. I hope you get another dog as you continue to fight your battle with cancer. Fiona x

  12. Hugs Jennifer. It is so hard when a pet passes away. It’s so lovely that you adopted an older pet. Both of you gained so much from it. Hopefully you will have lots of luck with another rehomed dog.

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