R.I.P. Queen of Labrador(ish) Dogs

I have been neglecting my blog. It is a bit like neglecting to clean the fridge. You know the longer you leave it the more hassle it will be, but then again it’s not a matter of utmost priority; the worst that will happen is a lettuce will turn into sludge or a pot of home-made jam will cultivate its own brain cells. In a blog’s case, the worst that will happen is your reader statistics will shrivel up into single figures. At the moment I’m not really bothered about that, but I promised a friend to write something this week, and to prove I can keep a promise, I am writing this.

My friend is French. He speaks pretty damn good English. But like a lot of my French friends, my blog is one of the only sources of English language he reads on a regular basis (poor him… poor them), so it it my duty to the people of France to keep writing, no matter what, in order to keep their English fit and healthy (if a little tainted with words made up by me which should exist anyway and which make perfect sense in the given context).

I have either been too busy to write – an unfamiliar situation in my current life despite racing about after the kids as I usually have nap-times and evenings to write, or I have been too happy – no-one wants to read about how great someone else’s life is, or I have been too sad – no-one wants to read about someone in tears over a pet who has disappeared. I did a week of dancing at Valence with a brilliant choreographer (I must write about that soon), followed by a week in the UK, followed by our return to France and the discovery that our trusty 15-year old Queen of Labradors had gone missing. She is, indeed, still missing. I think that means she is in Labrador Paradise by now, frolicking with other dogs of sexually diverse orientation; Baloo fancied males and females alike and didn’t care who knew. Neither did I, although my then-boyfriend was always very embarrassed to see her mounting other bitches, yo.

Anyway, Baloo turned 15 on October the 16th this year and I have just seen that my last post (an absurd one which does not merit being read) was indeed written on the morning of her birthday. Wicked mistress, I didn’t write anything about Baloo this year, partly so as not to bore readers, having written about her last year here. I sincerely thought she wouldn’t make it to her 15th birthday, but she did, if a little creakily. We celebrated it with some leftover cherry tart and candles and a dog bowl with stars and the word “DOG” written in it.

She seemed a little perturbed by the whole thing. But then, I suppose that when you get to 90-odd years (I think that’s the equivalent of a 15 yr old labrador), you’re not really into sweet desserts and loud singing, although she was deaf so she probably just wondered why we kept opening our mouths so wide and holding them there, while advancing with a bowl full of flames.

Tommy, our lighting engineer dealt with the pyrotechnics.

So Baloo made it to the grand old age of fifteen dog years. Which is like us hitting 90, 95 or so. That’s pretty damn good going. She had a painful hip and had started taking anti-inflammatory drugs every morning, but that was all she had wrong with her. When I dropped her off at my friend’s house, she was slow and creaky, but fine. Or so I thought.

Apparently one evening she just got up and wandered off.

She has never gone further than a few metres from the person looking after her. But this time she went far, far away. And no-one has seen her since. I was in England when I heard she had been missing for two days so I phoned round neighbours and the local authorities but no-one had seen her. When I got home I went looking for her in the countryside and woodland around our friend’s house, where she had been staying. But it really was like looking for a needle in a haystack. After a while I wondered if I even wanted to find her. What would I find anyway? Grisly remains? Did I really want to see her like that? I imagined what it must be like when it’s not an old dog you’re searching for, but a lost child. I suddenly felt very cold. I thought how lucky I was to have my kids safe at home in the warm. In the end I turned back to my car and drove home.

We are still getting used to Baloo not being around. Every time we arrive home Léonie calls her. Every time we drive past our friend’s house Tommy goes very quiet and sometimes cries a bit. I had a good old bawl the day I spent the morning searching for her in the woods. But in the end it’s typical of Baloo to spare us of the trouble of dealing with her death and the pain of seeing her dead. She was such a gentle, easy, loving dog.

R.I.P. Baloo. We loved you so very much.

NB: For those of you who can’t stand people going on about their pets, Normal Service will be resumed post hastily.

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