You may have met Tilly, my golden cocker spaniel… well in truth she was a mix between a Cocker and Springer (a ‘Sprocker’). She often came with me to the office and (being a little too friendly) may have greeted you or been ushered into one of the other rooms.
Tilly was my first dog, after much ‘discussion’ and persuasion, I eventually capitulated to the calls from my family to take the plunge. That was back in 2009. I can tell you that the reasons for my reluctance to become a dog owner were largely right, but also totally wrong. The daily walks come rain, shine or snow did me enormous good – indeed much of this quiet time was spent thinking about how I could help clients, develop the business or simply be a better human.
Tilly became a companion and the phrase ‘a man’s best friend’ resonated. Not a human friendship of course, but one of complete acceptance of me. During lockdown, I took to posting rather more pictures of our walks together as I’d been encouraged to do so – some found it helpful to see the normality of a middle-aged bloke walking his dog. You can see many of them on my social media accounts should you wish to.
On holiday this summer it became evident that Tilly was not well. We returned home a day earlier than planned for a trip to the vet. Suspicions were confirmed and drugs to help with eating and weight loss prescribed. A couple of weeks later, she was in a poor state and reluctantly we made the decision to say goodbye. The vet said that this was definitely the right thing to be doing. I called my family so that they could all come home to say goodbye.
It was horrible. I suspect many of you have had such an experience, it’s horrid. There is the lingering feeling of ‘was this really the right thing to have done?’; to have been alive one moment and gone the next, so suddenly.
I was struck by my own feelings about the loss; genuinely deeply sorrowful. I could reflect on many lovely memories, but was acutely aware that this part of my journey was at an end. I found myself replaying that last day over and over in my mind – could I and should I have done things differently? The thing is, as we all know, it’s all so final isn’t it?
To be clear, grief isn’t a new experience for me. Sadly, over the last 30 years I have lost several close family and friends, and another dear friend in February. Not people from the expected older generation and not dying of ‘old age’, but invariably very sudden and catastrophic changes in health. These are experiences that many of us have had, and all of us have in the end.
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