When the end was nigh for Finn, my faithful shaggy companion for more than 14 years, he knew it and I knew it. We had travelled a long way together, from Belfast to Washington to Israel to London and ultimately to the suburbs of northern Virginia but it was clear his journey was over.
The pain in his body was suddenly making him cry and yelp much more frequently. And then he just stopped eating and drinking. For several days, he didn’t touch his food and had to be forced to drink. I took him for a walk but he moved with agonising lassitude.
His hind legs seemed to have seized up. They would fold underneath him, he would try to haul them up and then he would let his front legs down in resignation and just look up at me plaintively. On his final proper walk, he collapsed nose first in the dust and I had to carry him home.
As I wrote in my recent piece about Finn’s waning days, his decline had been slow and steady. For a year, I had been carrying him up and down the stairs. For more than six months, he had been incontinent and wearing a nappy inside the house – something that distressed me at first but never seemed to bother him much.
But there was nothing slow and steady about what was now happening – it was as if Finn had fallen off a cliff. He lay in the hall by the front door barely moving for several hours. Nothing would perk him up. I put him in the bath (he always loved those) and got in with him. The water seems to soothe him a little.
Even a week earlier, the end of his bath had triggered a manic run through the bedrooms with Finn rolling on every rug and up against every duvet to get himself dry.
But this time, he just lay in the tub as the water drained out. Are you a happy chappy?’ I asked him, an inquiry that had always brought a tail wag in reply. He remained motionless.
The next day, I called the vet and told her that I thought Finn had reached the point at which he was ready to leave us.
After putting the phone down, I went to the garage, picked up a spade, walked around to the back of the house and began digging.
There's more and it's moving and touching and most worthy of your time.
I'm once again reminded of our own similar experience with Sadie and even now, I look over at Harley, who lies here next to me as I'm typing this, and think about the fact that one day, we'll lose him as well.
May that day be far, far off.