When I started to take Ollie out in 2012, he had at least nine best friends in the canine world.
Now, few of those are left. We recently heard about Ellie, the Spaniel. She was around ten years old, and had to be put to sleep after a large tumour was discovered inside her.
Some are still around. Toby the Jack Russell for one. Then yesterday, we encountered Rocky, the Black Labrador. We hadn’t seen him that much during the bad weather, so it was nice to discover that he was fit and well, and as lively as ever. Ollie was pleased to see him, after all that time.
There are some new friends arriving, but Ollie is reluctant to admit them to his ‘gang’. Missy the Whippet. She loves Ollie, and runs circles around him, like a tiny whirlwind. Ruby, the Chocolate Labrador, who searches him out with obvious delight, whenever she sees him. He still stands and looks at the entrances to Beetley Meadows and Hoe Rough, and I just know he is searching for his absent friends.
We also met up with Teddy, the young Alsatian. He wants to play all the time, but doesn’t realise just how big he is. After a lot of jumping around Ollie, and barking at him incessantly, Ollie finally allowed a short play. Chasing round in circles, splashing into the river, and trying to avoid Teddy as the big dog swipes him with huge paws. Ollie has soon had enough, and a few growls tell Teddy playtime is over for now.
As I chat to Teddy’s lady owner, Ollie stares into the distance at the entrance to Beetley Meadows from the road we live on. He seems to be waiting for older, more familiar friends. I try to tell him they will not be coming, but of course he doesn’t understand.
And what of Strudel, one of his best-ever friends? We haven’t seen her for so long now, I am wondering if she is okay.
Just as we mourn our friends, dogs do too.
They search for their smells, sniff their familiar owners, and wonder why the dogs are no longer around.
Loss and grief are not just human emotions. I’m certain of that.