It’s been two weeks and two days since I lost my beloved Eric. I miss him terribly and my little house seems suddenly too big without him shambling around or barking insanely at the postman or knocking my slippers off my feet as he follows me, too closely, up the stairs.
It isn’t only my grief, of course. As if the tears of my family weren’t enough, I didn’t realise how much he meant to everybody until I discovered that my niece, Medusa, had secreted his collar, lead and muzzle in her school bag. Her consternation when I asked for them back a few days later was so sad to see. We agreed that I could have the lead but she could keep the collar and the muzzle. The muzzle was a recent addition to Eric’s life. I bought it as his condition worsened and his behaviour became more unpredictable. I hated it as much as he did but it was necessary when he was around the kids, lest he snapped at them. I found it strange that Medusa would want to keep it, but she did, and now her teddy bear wears it with the collar. Not sure how Ted feels about that.
Having a dog that was known as a character in the village means I’ve cried publicly several times as I’ve explained to concerned locals where Eric has gone. And so has my sister, St Francis. We are a right bunch of softies in my family.
But every sad ending brings a new beginning.
Loving Homes Dog Rescue, the charity that placed Eric with us, let me know that a female Doberman cross was in urgent need of a new home and I was sorely tempted. She was a truly lovely looking dog but, like many rescue dogs, she had her issues and after coping with Eric’s deterioration, I was exhausted. I needed a gentler housemate. (We are making it up to them by possibly fostering a little six-month-old that was stolen from her owner by muggers who apparently wanted her as a bait dog.) So I browsed various rescue sites on the internet, without any real idea of taking on another dog so soon, until I happened across Great Dane Care and that was that.
I like big dogs. I like all dogs (well, nearly all) but I really like big dogs and I’ve had Danes before so I stopped on the Great Dane Care site and had a look around. As luck would have it, the half-starved and mistreated Alfie was at the top of the page. St F and I made enquiries and exactly one week ago Alfie took up residence in my house. No longer is my home echoing and empty. It’s filled with the snoring, farting and grunting of its newest occupant. I still see Eric everywhere but it is a calm feeling as if some remnant of Eric’s spirit has given his approval – but then that’s the rescue dog prayer, isn’t it? ‘When I go, let another experience the love and care that you gave me …’
Any of you who read my earlier post Int Life Brilliant? will know that I’ve had an Alfie in my life before. We don’t duplicate names, St F and I. It wouldn’t be fair to our Alfie’s memory and it wouldn’t be fair to this chap so St F and I spent that first day watching our new friend to work out what his name could be. A chance remark from St F about the dog’s very mobile and expressive eyebrows led to me joking about Roger Moore (An actor famous for his being able to raise one or both eyebrows). There was a pause, St F and I looked at each other – ‘Roger,’ she said. ‘I like that.’ And so Alfie the Dane became Roger the Dane. He’s also known as Roger Dodger, Roger the Lodger, Droopy and Slobadan. The last refers to his drooling like a leaky tap, especially at mealtimes.
Starved, beaten, with scars that are quite likely to come from cigarette burns, Roger is a surprisingly trusting soul. Well-mannered, gentle and calm and I am more than a little in love with him already. Thank god for the people who work so hard in rescue centres like Loving Homes Dog Rescue and Great Dane Care, They don’t make any money and they witness the awfulness of man’s inhumanity daily. I am truly glad that people like St F and I are trusted to care for some of their precious creatures.