In every good life there are bad days, and this was one of them. One thing I haven’t gotten used to in the country is all the dying. I’m sure the grim reaper doesn’t spend more time here than he does the cities, it’s just that you meet more of God’s creatures when you’re here. In 3 short years here I’ve witnessed the passing of 3 cats, two geese, a peacock, Frodo (a chestnut brown mongrel), and dozens of mice (although, I have been responsible for those). Today marks a passing to eclipse all others – Sheridan, our beloved border collie.
He was 15 years old (105 to you), and the real master of the house. Although I only lived with him for three years, I’ve known him for ten, and he knew me well by the time he closed his eyes this afternoon. He stayed with me while I filled potholes in the driveway when no-one else would. He saw me smoking behind the barn and told no one. He let my kids sit on his back to allow me a little guitar time. My tutor and partner in crime. In a way he completed me. I’d tell guests that Sheridan would take them on a tour of the property, and as if he were listening from behind a bush, he would appear and show them around, to the amazement of newcomers, and with a familiar smile from regulars.
One guest, who has been staying here with much appreciated regularity for the last 14 years, claims that his visits are because of Sheridan. We received a package from him at Christmas containing a card for Sheridan and one pair of “Doggles”, which for the uninitiated, are goggles for dogs…with UV protection. Although I was at first offended by the thoughts of playing second fiddle to a dog, I now understand why.
Sheridan was nature’s welcoming committee. He allowed me to stop and smell the roses. He would walk at my pace, stop when I stopped, and helped me hear the heartbeat of this place. I loved him, and no different than anyone else that I love, at times I wanted to kill him.
For a few years, he had a particular affection for attacking the wheel wells of cars as they arrived down the long drive. The distance from the front gate to the house gave plenty of time to plan his assault. Just when I thought that another car had made it safely to the house, he would charge out of the long grass and attack, terrifying a new arrival, and mangling the side of their car. Never someone driving a Fiat Punto. No, Sheridan’s tipple was dark coloured, late model BMW’s and Mercedes. If anyone reading this has had their car attacked by Sheridan in the past, I hope you feel guilty about sending us the bill.
He was also clever, cold and calculating. Not long after moving here, I remember the panic as he came limping across the lawn after an encounter with one of our donkeys. Another favourite pastime of his was herding our donkeys, and on this day the donkey stood his ground, and kicked Sheridan in the side. He lay down under a bush and didn’t come out for three days and I’m sure I would have too. He recovered and chose his moment. A year later he charged the donkeys in front of an inspector from the Donkey Sanctuary ensuring their swift removal from the property.
Well, today all is forgiven. I sat with him as the vet shaved a patch on his foreleg to find a vein to inject the Euthanyl that would send him off. I said my good-bye and thanked him for showing me around his home, then left him to make sure Hannah was ok. Expecting to be met by floods of tears, I was surprised to see her preparing the starter for the guest’s dinner. She gave me a hug when she saw my quivering lip and proceeded to tell me how relieved she was. We’d all been dreading today, but he didn’t suffer and was surrounded by people he loved. He had a good life.