Goodbye, dear friend

So there I was preparing a blogpost all about the new life we are living when I get some bad news from back home. Our beautiful labrador, Ebby, who is the sweetest personality, was gravely ill and the vet saw it as a kindness to put her to sleep. He said in all likeness she had bone cancer and it had progressed quickly. For ages she had been getting stiff on her back legs but I think she had been hiding from us how much pain she was in. My sister had to deliver the news and with the time difference that meant it was the children’s bedtime when we spoke but lunchtime for her. We had just come home from a lazy dinner out when our world was shaken by the news that our wonderful friend was in a huge amount of pain and not the happy thing she is normally. We had to keep the kids out of the room as our eldest was away and we didn’t feel it was fair to tell the others and not her. The hardest thing was keeping it from our son that one of his dearest friends was basically waiting to die.

My dad had spotted she wasn’t comfortable and my sister had taken her to the vets. In short we had left her in very capable hands. When my sister returned home poor Ebby couldn’t get out of the car. The vet had given her strong painkillers to help her be more comfortable so that our other lovely pooch, Eric, would get to say goodbye to her. As soon as my sis opened the boot in Eric jumped and he stayed there for hours until the vet came to help Ebby rest in peace forever. After which Eric jumped back in to see her, had a sniff, knew she was no longer there and went inside for the first time in hours. Eric has known she wasn’t well of course, in the way only dogs do. My parents said he had obviously been worried about her and looking after her, that on walks he kept returning to make sure she was ok and that he would oftentimes leave her to sleep by herself so she was more comfortable, even though Eric’s preference was to cuddle up to her.

So many emotions are swirling around us all. We feel guilty that we were not there, sad that we shall never see Ebby again, relieved that she is no longer in pain and, overall, grateful that she loved us so much. 

We rescued Ebby 11 years ago. We initially got her in order to help calm Eric down, who was an unruly, feisty pup. Ultimately she did just that and she took her role in the pack seriously. Ebby was the one to defuse a situation. Whenever someone was sad she was there for a cuddle. When there was an argument (human or dog) she would run in and take the tension away from the aggressor. If someone visited our house she was there to greet them and make sure they felt welcome. She met all our children as babies, seeing me through two pregnancies and a miscarriage and accepting our eldest (who was 8 months old) when Ebby first joined our household. 

The video chat I had with Ebby on the afternoon that she died wasn’t enough for me. I got to see her and say goodbye but there are some other things I’d like to say. And even though she wouldn’t be able to read this I want to say goodbye.

Photo credit Pattie Fellowes

To my dearest, darling Ebby. What a magnificent friend and member of our family you have been! For many years now you have been there for me and I want to say a heartfelt thank you. Thank you for nudging me into giving you cuddles when I was depressed. Thank you for sitting beside me as I breastfed my children and had some doubts in my parenting ability. Thank you for always being there with your lovely soft ears when I didn’t even know that stroking you would make the world better. Thank you for making us laugh as you jumped into the lake after a stick and then squeaked like a creaky door as you swam back. Thank you for seeing so much joy in simple green grass and forests. Thank you for playing fetch. Thank you for teaching Eric some manners and letting him sit on you all these years. He will miss you. Thank you for defusing so many situations by a big lick and waggy tale. Every time you sighed as you settled to sleep in your bed I thought you had the right idea and you seemed to be saying so. I love how you made a noise of appreciation every time someone stroked your soft ears. Thank you for lying next to me as I had many a nap through whichever illness I was suffering that week. Thank you for looking after me. Thank you for looking after all of us. Thank you for putting up with the boy-child’s endless hugs as his arms enveloped your neck and all you did was sigh. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for teaching us the value of love unconditional. Thank you for being part of our family. We shall never forget you. Somehow we feel your spirit has visited us since you passed. You’re still here to tell us it’s ok. Run well and enjoy swimming, chasing rabbits, fetching sticks and eating those thing us humans would rather not think about. We love you, Ebby. We will miss you terribly. Thank you for being part of our lives. Goodbye, dear friend.