My sister Ceri in South Africa tells me one of her grand-daughters, Jessie, found two Schnauzers mooching about and invited them to spend the night evidently much to the chagrin of her mother who is busy trying to pack up prior to the family’s departure for Singapore, and the two dogs who own the place had their noses put out of joint. This love of animals and collecting of strays must run in the family. As a kid I was forever driving my mother potty rescuing or trying to rescue them and my father wasn’t much better. It reached a climax one night when I brought home a stray human being.
As Ceri very wisely says, ‘when you buy a pup you’re buying heartache somewhere down the line.’ I remember my first heartache was when my dog Casey (Casey Jones, get it?) died of distemper, a particularly horrible death. We found him lying in the cool underneath the house and there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth, a rendering of youthful robes and, if we’d had ashes, I’d have gone the full Biblical hog as it were. Actually I don’t remember any rendering either but the wailing and gnashing is certainly true. Since then a great number of pets have departed this earthly coil and made it to pethaven. There are a number of graves at the bottom of the garden and last year we lost three; two cats, one dog. Cat Hortense simply died of old age. Cat Wilson (this was really heartbreak time) was poisoned and dog Puccini aka Pooch died of liver cancer. Well they were all heartbreak time really are still missed.
We brought four animals out with us from England, two cats of which Hortense was one and two dogs. Candide died a couple of years back also from cancer, this time leukaemia and now, this is without being morbid, merely stating a fact, we have been waiting for the last six months or so for the last of the English animals, Sweeny, to go the way of all flesh. She has probably been an ultra-favourite, rescued from the RSPCA home in Halifax as a birthday present for Douglas nearly sixteen years ago. There was a time when she would race after a ball or her favourite ring until ready to drop and then one day last year quite out of the blue she did drop it. I had known for a while she was getting a bit short-sighted as one day she mistook a tree for me and stood waiting for he tree to throw the ball for her and more and more she was finding the toy more by smell. This day I threw the ring, she never moved until she turned and went into the house and never looked back. It was so sudden and it upset me so much I have to admit to bursting into tears. Since then 95 percent of her time is spent sleeping and the rest is spent walking from one sleeping place to another and eating breakfast and dinner. She is deaf, virtually blind and incontinent but appears to be quite accepting of her changed circumstances. Could we all grow old so gracefully? At the moment she’s fast asleep on the chair behind me and one has to look very close to make sure she’s still breathing. We were so sure of her demise last year that back in August/September sometime Douglas actually dug her grave before going over to Athens and one night I found her sitting beside it, couldn’t get her to come in so took out a blanket and made a plastic tent and she camped out for the night. I fully expected the following morning to find her dead but no, she was sitting there quite happily and later came into the house of her own accord. We think she must have had a minor stroke at the time.
The winds of Crete are fierce today and the Foote family sail back to Athens tonight. Let’s hope it’s not an uncomfortable voyage.