I can remember the last time I saw her face like it was yesterday.
She was 15, which may not seem very old but, in dog years, she was over 90 – a senior citizen and pretty good going for her breed.
While we knew the end was near, I didn’t expect it to be that day and I still wasn’t ready for it – although can you ever really be ready for that last goodbye?
The memories of that day are etched in my mind. I can clearly picture her sitting on my lap, as I hugged her tighter than I ever had before, not knowing that was the last time I would. And I can still see her big brown eyes looking back at me as the vet carried her away, unaware that I would never see them again.
It is so easy to take something for granted while it is there, only realising quite how important it is to you when it is too late. Children can learn a lot when they grow up with a dog and I can honestly say my childhood would have been very different had I not had one. While they come into your life to teach you about love, they leave again to teach you about loss – subsequently teaching you how important it is to appreciate those close to you while you can.
Unless you have lost a dog you can’t imagine the pain losing one can cause. They aren’t just a family pet, they are a member of the family. They are there with their tails wagging and endless love, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Then, one day, just like that, they aren’t there any more – the house is silent and there is something missing from your lives.
Although the memories are still prevalent, it was actually six years ago that we lost Ruby and we have had Keira for many years now. So, what is the point of me telling you this?
Well, last year I wrote my first short story for the Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition that ran in conjunction with the Henley Literary Festival. As soon as the competition finished my brain was whirring with story ideas, and I started plotting out two new ones – each leading on from the previous.
Unfortunately those plots never became anything more than notes, saved in the depth of my computer. That was until I saw that Dragonfly Tea were running their competition again this year and thought it would be a great excuse to actually write the second one.
Once again the rules stipulated a 3000 word story, but this year it was on the theme of ‘Discovery’ and the title was up to you.
I chose to call my story ‘The Last Time’ and based it loosely on both my experience of growing up with and losing a dog – as well as something that my mum told me several years after we lost her and had a new little bundle of fur running around the house.
It links back to the previous story as Lucy, the protagonist of this one, lives next door to and is best friends with Sophia – the main character from last years story, Green Gaucho – which you can read here, FYI.
I guess the moral of the story is to make sure you always say goodbye like it is the last time because one day it really will be.
So, put the kettle on, pour yourself a cup of tea and click here to give it a read. If you own or have ever lost a dog, you might want some tissues close by, you know, just in case…