by Rhianan

This is one of my favourites

This is one of my favourites

It was about midnight, and I'd just finished feeding my new baby before bed. I heard someone knock on my door and went to answer it. I heard the gate close but couldn't see anyone because of next door's hedge. I thought it was a bit late for knock-a-door-run, I was annoyed and turned round to go back in, but I nearly tripped over a small box that I hadn't seen before. There was a bundle inside and, thinking it was baby clothes, I picked it up to bring it in - and it squeaked! It really did - it squeaked! I nearly dropped it in fright!

Inside, I unwrapped the bundle.... my heart was thumping. I'd no idea WHAT I might be about to find! I peeled back a layer of fabric and


it's a babydog!!!

I was grieving for Basil, my dog, who had died a couple of weeks before. My life was all wrong without a dog! I looked at this tiny, tiny scrap of life, too small to even stand up properly, and I knew it didn't matter what else happened, this puppy was NEVER going to wonder if it was loved!

But it was so SMALL...! I put my baby to bed and stayed awake, scared witless it wouldn't survive the night, I'd nothing in for it!

The next morning, I made an appointment with the local vet. She told me my puppy was a girl, about three weeks old, and told me about baby milk for puppies, called Whelpi. I bottle-fed her for the next month! I wanted her to have the right name so I decided to sleep on it. That was silly of me!

That first night, she didn't shut up!! The next morning, because it'd sounded like she was trying to bark the walls down, I called her Jerry - because Jericho seemed like a stupid name for such a small dog!

We soon settled into a routine. Everywhere I went, Jerry came too. She kept tripping over her lead because she was so small, so as soon as she knew her name, we stopped using it. She was famous for not needing it! She never went any further away from me than a lead would stretch anyway, and if she was more than a few feet in front of me she'd turn in a circle every few yards to check I was still with her! Once, in 1999 (when I was pregnant with Katie), I got halfway down the street before I realised she was still waiting for me outside the chemists, and she never forgot that. From then on she barked at me every time I came out of a shop!

Within weeks, she'd learnt a trick that stayed with her for the rest of her life, and boy, was it a crowd pleaser! Whenever she did it, I'd say "ask Bonny!" and she'd sit up and "beg" - it took her about three goes to learn that it was always good for a cuddle! Soon, she was using it to greet people - passing strangers, family, she didn't care, it worked every time! She had no fear!

When she was eight months old, my husband threw her down the stairs, from the top to the bottom, for chewing a hole in his leather jacket. He'd hit me before, but this was shocking to me, that he could throw a tiny puppy downstairs and feel justified in doing it. It was the attack that changed everything. Before then, it was all my own fault I was being hurt - but there was NO WAY my babydog deserved that! My marriage broke up soon after.

We moved house several times, Jerry and I. She got to know the signs! One time, after a move, she was missing for a couple of hours. I was so relieved when she strolled home as if nothing had happened!

She HATED the rain! I used to say to people, if you've never seen a dog dancing, watch Jerry going under a gutter in the rain! She wouldn't even walk through a puddle if she could avoid it, yet I could give her a shower no problem. She would stand there, dignified as always, and wait until I'd decided she smelled nice again!

When she was 9, she had her first litter of puppies. There were five of them, but only one survivor, who we kept and called Cosmic. Sadly, Cosmic was kicked to death by a neighbour when she was 6 months old. She was a buzzing little dog!

Aged 10, Jerry had radical surgery for cancer. She was left with a brutal scar, and I had to keep taking her back to the vet because her stitches wouldn't stay put. I never had a problem taking her to the vet, fortunately! I've never known a more patient dog. So well behaved - it didn't matter to Jerry what she went through as long as she went through it with me. She was by my side when I was widowed, when I was attacked by the neighbour who killed Jerry's puppy, when no-one else wanted to know me because I was too drugged out to care - Jerry was always there, always pleased to see me, happy wagging come rain or shine.

I knew she was slowing down, but while she could still get herself three feet off the floor in excitement at her lead coming out (because I'd had to buy her one to keep the vet happy when she had cancer), she was happy, and it didn't seem to matter that it often took her several attempts to get onto the sofa!

She slept in a different bedroom every night, that last week. She was permaglued to my side from Sunday. She knew, I'm sure of it. I think she went round saying her goodbyes. I don't think she was afraid at all.

This morning, she didn't wake up. She was gone from me forever, aged 14. She left a puppy-shaped hole. But I can console myself with these thoughts:

She always knew she was loved, and I never once saw her cringe or flinch, because she had no reason to be afraid.

There's no shame in losing your best friend to old age.

At least her passing was peaceful, natural, not caused by a well-meaning vet with a syringe full of anaesthesia.

And she knew she was loved. Always. She had a good life, playing on the beach with the kids, walking alongside me with a bag of bones from the butchers in her mouth, chasing cars, always grinning and wagging...

Jerry, I will always love you!

Rest in peace, babydog xxxxxxxxxx

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