Saturday’s sad news

Yesterday, our long-lived and much-loved lurcher, Jenny, had to be put down. This is very sad for all of us, but especially my Dad who gave her a walk and some good painkillers and sat with her, keeping her company, during her last night.

My Mum saw Jenny in the dog’s home around ten years ago, and – even though she hadn’t planned on getting any more dogs – was instantly smitten. Jenny had been sent back to the dog’s home twice for eating furniture, and was lying with her back to the door in a tiny heap of unloved sadness. After a few months in the company of our other formidable hounds – Queenie and Max, also rescued greyhounds, also awesome, also now sadly deceased – she grew in confidence, becoming at times a bit thuggish with her canine accomplices.

She also used to try out an ingratiating little smile on us, when we had some tasty nugget of meat left on our plates that she hoped to win. The smile was really quite a hideous grimace, tail wagging and neat little teeth all gleaming, and if she smiled too much she would make herself sneeze. When the smiling trick didn’t work, she would ever so delicately rub her soft nose on your underarm, like a caress, and look deliberately and meaningfully across at whatever was left on your plate. And if you gave it to her, she would take it ever so gently from your fingers and run away somewhere secretive, to eat it.

She was fussy about her food, refusing to eat if anyone else was in the room, and very keen on trying to coax as many treats from us as possible in the morning. In the last few months, she has only eaten free-range chicken and rice, leading to many family jokes along the lines of ‘I had a salmon paste sandwich while Jenny got the fillet beef steak’ etc. and she took a virulent dislike of the X-Factor a couple of weekends ago, barking insistently and agitatedly through the whole programme.

She also liked nothing better than a tasty pig’s ear as a snack, and woke me up at 6am the last two nights I stayed at home by crunching said treat under the table with great gusto. I recorded the sound in the end, since I had to lie there and listen to it! And she loved to bark sometimes just for no reason at all, and to stand at the top of the stairs looking out of the window, her little nose pressed up against the glass and her ears pricked up whenever a family member arrived home.

Jenny was happiest in the company of others, and would always lie at the feet of whoever was up and working away on the PC, whatever time of night it was. And she could be relied on for an early morning barking spree if you were ever in need of a lie-in. She was definitely the naughtiest dog we ever had; when she came to stay with me and Mark, she managed to eat a whole bucket of M&S finest flapjacks, barf on Jack’s carpet and wake us up three times in the middle of the night for no reason whatsoever. And when Mark tried to take her for a walk, she merely ran back to the house immediately and cowered on the doorstep until he let her back in.

She was a nightmare to walk, a noisy presence, a fussy eater and a mischievious animal. But all of these traits were part of her enormous character and from her wrinkle-nosed grin to her skittering gait, to her vocal little whines and inscrutable habits, she filled our family home for many years with her tricks and personality. Her nervous, skittery steps on the wooden flooring in the hallway earned her the nickname ‘sprinkles.’ When I moved home at 25 to figure out how to proceed with Arthritis/life-plans/disability, Jenny and I spent a lot of time sitting on the stairs together and walking in the woods near our house. She was a friendly and loyal companion who especially enjoyed hiding ahead of me on the path and leaping out to surprise me as I approached. She ran with her tongue lolling out of her mouth and her legs all ungainly around her, and her mix of labrador/greyhound gave her a comparitively broad barrel chest and stumpy legs. But it also gave her the hybrid vigour that meant she lived to a great age. And in her long life, she made her way right into the heart of our family. She is the last of a dynasty of gorgeous rescued greyhounds that we have homed and we will miss her and her ways, and I am sad to think that next time I go home, there will not be a little face pressed to the upstairs window, or the skitter of nervous paws on the floor, or a little spree of random barks to wake me up at 6am.

I am really glad that she didn’t have a long, protracted demise involving tonnes of pain and suffering; my Dad said that she was full of beans on her last walk and that he took her to work with him on Friday, where the receptionists and staff at his surgery spoiled her rotten and gave her masses of fuss. But when she started having difficulty breathing on Thursday evening I think he knew she was seriously ill; I’m glad she was nurtured right to the end.  She was the awesomest and we shall all miss her. x

11 Responses to Saturday’s sad news

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Sunday’s happier news

  2. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Where October went.

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