There never was a more expressive dog. Too easy to train, you would quickly get bored and the lip would be out. Worse was the look of scorn on your face when you saw we were going off on adventures without you.
They say dogs don’t like hugs but you would lean in with all your weight, pushing in to greet us after the long growly hellooooo. The little bounce like a rabbit when you realised we’d be walking all the way to the river in the morning. The side glance if we were taking too long. The stubborness when it was time to go home and the terrorising of that little brown dog.
The only dog I ever knew who had a favourite piece of piano music. And a waltz too.
And then when we all went on summer holidays by the sea you’d get a bit wild, you and your cat sister. You became a more feral version of yourself, as if some visceral impulse had sharpened your canine soul. You would stay out all night, guarding us against the solid black shadows that were flung across the field by the full moon. A different dog then, all distant and sleek, impatient with our ordinary affections.
But then there were times when we spoke the same language too. Moments of mutual trust and understanding, like the day you finally made it up to the top of the ditch, and turned around and stood proudly as we cheered you on.
That was before you got sick. Then all of a sudden it was too easy to keep you from food, and we were desperately trying to get you to eat. It was always we, all of us, because you were a focal point of pure, uncomplicated love. And all of us worried and devastated when we knew the truth of what was coming.
But still, even towards the end, all the magic you could still find in the marshy greys and browns down by the river. I’ll hold that close, the pure joy we could see in you then.
Photo: Lauralee Guiney