This week was a sad time. I’ve mentioned before that our dog, Harper, was not well, suffering from Senile Dementia. We've done our best to keep him going and he 's been on anti-depressants and Valium for months.
Mostly he has slept during the day but he’s been waking us at around 5am. He wanted to go outside, but he wouldn’t go back to sleep and would spend two or three hours crying before he would settle down again. One of us would have to stay with him and walk around the house with him until he settled.
Tuesday there seemed to be a change, he was more confused than usual and when he walked he was dragging one front and one hind leg. He also slept even more than usual. He woke us at 3.30am on Wednesday and nothing would pacify him. We knew that it wasn’t fair to keep him going any longer. Mike went to work and this had the result of Harper walking into the bathroom and crying at the toilet. I phoned the Vet and made an appointment.
The nurses who work at our Vet’s are wonderful and were sad to see Harper come in for his last visit but they agreed this was the kindest thing for him. He stood with his face against the wall as if he had no idea where he was.
It’s strange but I don’t feel too sad now he is gone, the worst part was making the decision. I think really that his doggy life ended about a year ago and that I’d gradually got used to him not responding to anything. It was as if we no longer had a dog, he wasn’t up to his walks anymore, the most he could manage was a slow shamble around the Crescent, which would make him out of breath.
Harper lived with us for 14 years and we had him as a ‘Rescue’ when he was about 12 months old. He was found, with a badly broken front leg and when we first had him the leg was still plastered, it wasn’t certain whether the leg could be saved. Luckily it healed well and he rarely showed any signs of the injury.
We don’t know what happened to Harper before he came to us but I don’t think he had been well treated. He could be quite badly behaved and Mike and I have both been bitten by him in the past.
But he has been good fun, with his strange character quirks.
In the summer we often have hot air balloons fly over. Harper hated them. As soon as he heard the gas burner, he’d be off running up and down the length of the garden, barking his head off. One summer’s evening, as the sun was starting to get low in a misty sky, he mistook it for a balloon and went mad at it, which was very funny to see.
Harper had certain words that he didn’t like and we don’t know why. They were words that just came out in conversation and Harper’s reaction to them was surprising to say the least. These words were ‘Coroner, Elgar and Ja Ja Binks (a Star Wars character). His response to these words was always the same. He would do a deafening, high pitched, bark, which would set all the, glass, china even the fireplace ringing with the sound of it. I’m ashamed to admit we would use these words sometimes to show visitors his ‘party piece’ although it didn’t seem to upset him, he always seemed like he was doing it with a smile on his face and a sense of being a clever boy.
You could never be sure what he wouldn’t like. I will never forget the day he caught sight of a man up the road who had his head under the bonnet (hood) doing some maintenance on his car. Harper walked around our sitting room on his two hind legs, so he could get a better view, looking rather like ‘Skippy The Kangaroo‘, whilst barking wildly. He obviously thought the car was attacking the man.
He’d didn’t like people being on horseback either, which could prove difficult when out walking him. Many’s the time I’ve had to leap into a ditch , or behind a bush with him before he noticed an approaching horse, leaving Mike to explain to the bewildered rider our suspicious looking behaviour.
Our cat, Merlin, is missing him as he was very attached to Harper much to Harper’s disgust. Merlin would follow him around the garden, jumping up to nuzzle him under the chin. They would walk to the pond and have a look at that and then carry on to the bottom of the garden to have a look at the brook. They would stand side by side but Harper always gave the impression of being embarrassed by his feline companion and would try to walk away, Merlin never took the hint and would stay glued to his side. Yet Harper obviously had a fondness for Merlin and would go and cry at the back door to let us know when Merlin wanted to come in. I’ve had some very deep, searching looks from Merlin since Wednesday.
Thank you Harper for all the pleasure you gave us, there'll never be another quite like you.