The things I miss about not having a dog…


I’ve just cleared out the utility room again. It’s that sort of job I hate doing but eventually the hordes of shoes, scarves, coats and every other random item that needs somewhere to be stuffed rather than tidied starts to creep out into the kitchen. Tonight was the night. I was feeling brave.

After a time I found the floor, I found the worktop, opened the cupboard and then found the tin of dog food. It stopped me in my tracks as I can’t remember the last time our dog ate tinned dog food but then it’s been a while since I have felt him by my feet as I type.

Dexter was a rescue dog. A black lab who looked like a girl with his too short legs. He had hip problems, was sometimes crossed eyed and when my hubbie first picked him in the rescue centre was petrified of everyone and everything. My hubbie spent their first week together just being in the house and waiting, and hoping, that Dexter would see something in him that he could learn to trust. This worked as Dexter came to love hubbie more than anyone and trusted him implicitly. When I first met hubbie and Dexter, Dexter couldn’t be in the same room as me or anyone he didn’t know. He would take himself off upstairs and be as far away from me as possible. I understood. He’d been hurt and he had to trust me. One day we found ourselves in the same room and he came over to me. He nuzzled me, allowed me to stroke him and then promptly knocked me over and started to nibble my nose. As I wondered whether this was a good idea hubbie said ‘he only does that to me so I think he really likes you’.

He was dappy and daft but he loved water. I remember the time we took him for a walk and at the end of the lane was a canal. Dexter bounded towards the canal and before hubbie and I could shout ‘Dexter! NOOOOOOOOOO……..!’ He’d jumped in and was merrily swimming. Only after a few minutes had he suddenly thought ‘erm, how do I get out?’ It was a 2 foot sheer drop that he couldn’t climb so hubbie had to lean over and drag him out. No mean feat for a large wet dog is a heavy beast.

He loved the children. He was sat on, sang to, cuddled and occasionally, had bits of dressing up costumes put on him. He never minded and would only take himself off upstairs when he’d really had enough. Henry had been found asleep on Dexter cuddling up to him, so we put a blanket on him and left him.

So it comes as a huge sadness when old age creeps up on your loyal friend. When you realise he can no longer jump quite as high, hold as many tennis balls and likes to sleep more and more. He still had the most enormous bark which was never backed up by aggression as he was far too timid. He was a fabulous guard dog just assuming no one actually got through the front door. His decline, at first, was gradual. A couple of accidents here, a slight limp there but eventually the inevitable conversations of ‘Do you think it’s time?’ had us making the decision and then unmaking it just as quickly. He would sleep in my workroom and we saw him less and less. I knew he was there as he would look up snort at me and then go straight back to sleep.

The day he went was one of the saddest days of my life. Our loyal friend had been a marvellous dog and to take him to the vets to say goodbye was truly heart-breaking. Hubbie went while I had the children but I felt I should have been with Dexter and also hubbie who always joked that Dexter was his ‘first son’.

So as I walk back into the kitchen and sit down to write this the house has never been so clean, well in terms of dog hairs anyway. I now have those floors I can roll on and not get so stressed when the baby drops a toy and I am happy for friends to come over as I know that they won’t leave coated in dog hairs. I have to clean up the food spills of the children now as Dexter isn’t here to hoover them up. I can walk across the kitchen without tripping over a sleeping, snoring black lab and I can get to the front door without being barged out of the way.

All this though are the things I complained about the most with Dexter but now are the things I miss. In the words of Henry who, possibly, adored him the most ‘I don’t want him dead [Mummy] I just want him back…

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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8 Responses to The things I miss about not having a dog…

  1. Dominique says:

    That bought back alot of memories and the two times I have had to stroke my gorgeous dogs head whilst he takes his last breath.

    For quite some time afterwards, I still heard the tinkle of his dog tag around the house but of course it was in my head.

    That was such a lovely blog, thanks.x

  2. Trudi says:

    That brought a tear to my eye, I remember when we lost both my family dogs, it was heartbreaking.

  3. Claire Keen says:

    Just reading through your blogs and this one made me cry.We have a Jack Russell cross breed called Dexter and this blog made me smile,cry and smile again.

    Thankyou x

  4. Carol Eccles says:

    I’m sitting here reading your blog with the tears rolling down my face. We had to farewell my beautiful best friend last year. Max was a 15 year old German Shepherd &, like your boys & Dexter, he grew up with my children. It’s silly, I know, but I collected bags & bags of his hair; apparently it can be spun & knitted into a jumper. Occasionaly I will go to the cupboard & feel it, just to have him close I guess. We now have a bouncy, doofy 8 month old German Shepherd, Jack, who brings in more mud & drops more hair than I ever thought possible lol. (It’s autumn here – did I tell you we live in Melbourne, Australia?) I still miss Max every day, but Jack keeps the quiet at bay.

  5. Natasha says:

    This blog made me sob as I have to say I never remembered until losing a pet what a bereavement it was. Have you ever read – Up In Heaven by Emma Chichester Clark. Forgive me if I have parts of the title/authors name wrong. It’s a wonderful book about losing a dog written for children but it made me cry and I just felt it was a lovely way of remembering such a beloved member of the family. Order it in from another library if your one doesn’t have it and see whether you agree and Amazon definitely sell it. My parents had 2 dogs, one of which we sadly had to put to sleep, she was willing us too but it doesn’t make it any easier and there will be such a gaping whole when her brother eventually has to leave us, I started looking for a book to try and help my 2 year old grasp why Frodo was no longer there. She loves that dog so much and they have a relationship that no one else has with her or him. He knew when we brought her to visit them for the first time and jumped up at the car (which was a first) and they play together and have developed a total understanding of each other and a communication pattern all of their own. Sorry to ramble through the tears but I hope the book helps. x

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