All dogs go to heaven

I can quite vividly remember the day my goldfish died she – well I think she was a she, how can you tell with a goldfish – was there floating at the bottom of her bowl glassy-eyed and most definitely dead.

I think this was my first experience of loss. I remember crying a little, then scooping her out placing her in a kitchen towel coffin and walking her to a watery grave. I flushed away a little of my childhood innocence that day.

RIP Baby Bop 1997 – 2004 may you be sleeping soundly with the fishes.

I’ve lost several pets since then. My beloved rabbit Molly died after 10 good years of me trying to cuddle her and her scratching the bejesus out of me. Unrequited love was just as heartbreaking at the tender age of 7 – that rabbit really hated me.

But no matter how many pets you love and lose it never gets any easier and the latest has hit hardest of all.

As a child I always liked to think there was a separate heaven for animals. I thought dogs would go to a place where the clouds were shaped like bones, and the mountains were made out of dog food. A place where there were sticks to chew, balls to fetch and cats to chase – a true paradise – all dogs deserve a little slice of paradise.

We lost the most beautiful dog in the world just recently and I can’t quite put into words how hard it has hit home.

I sometimes find myself standing in my porch waiting for him to come round the corner, toy in his mouth tail wagging, welcoming me home – but he doesn’t and I hate walking into an empty house. It feels so lonely and quiet, no sound of nails on wood or heaving breathing.

I keep seeing him out of the corner of my eye lying in his usual spots: by the back door, under the dining room table, in the porch even at the bottom of the stairs. Sometimes I think I hear the sound of him dreaming or heaving out a sigh and forget he’s not there.

The garden isn’t quite the same without the littering of toys and patchy grass. There is no hair circling in the wind or collecting in the cracks of the flower pots. The bits of crust I always saved for him remain on my plate.

I never thought I’d cry over a single hair on my jumper or when I go to call out his name forgetting. My world feels a little duller somehow.

Dogs really do all have their own personalities and Alfie is no exception – scared of everything, habitual and stubborn are a few ways I’d describe him. A dog who climbed in the bath on firework night at 2am, and shook from head to foot cocooned in a blanket at the smallest sign of thunder. He loved the beach and to just stand in water waiting for you to throw a rock or two. The dribble, and the hair balls and slobbery kisses are just a few of the reasons why I love him. This makes losing him even harder.

I read something once that really stuck with me – “People are born so that they learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice. Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Our beautiful boy – Alfie – best friend, scaredy dog and professional rock diver – we miss you everyday.


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