I wanted to write a post in celebration of Bonnie, our beautiful dog, who died on Monday.
We had always resisted the idea of having a dog, especially whilst we were both out at work all day. However, when I decided to cut back on work last year my daughter leapt on this as an excuse for getting the dog she had always longed for. When I did not immediately say no she realised I would cave in and within days we had researched the internet for dog breeders with labrador puppies for sale.
We chose to get a labrador because of their reputation for making excellent pets. Harry had always been very nervous around dogs of all shapes and sizes. But we hoped that if we had a puppy Harry could get used to it being around and growing gradually.
It worked. We got Bonnie at the end of the school holidays last year. At first Harry was very tentative around the small puppy who kept trying out her teeth on him. But gradually he got used to her. She had a habit of jumping up at him first thing in the morning & pulling at his dressing gown cord and he learned to tell her, “Get down, Bonnie!” in his best, firmest voice. He liked being the one to put her food bowl down for her & enjoyed playing tug-o-war with her ragger and throwing toys for her in the garden for her to fetch.
She was a beautiful, gentle, patient dog and my constant companion for the last 10 months. She treated Grace like another puppy and looked forward to her coming home from school because she knew that meant playtime. When Harry came home she knew that it was dinner-time and would come and lay her head on my knees, imploring me to feed her. And when Stephen came home from work that was her cue for mad barking and jumping up for more hugs & cuddles.
To wake up and find her dead in her bed on Monday morning was an awful shock. Harry asked “What’s Bonnie doing? Is she asleep?” and I had to tell him the news. He has experienced the deaths of pets and relatives and invariably responds in the same way: “That’s sad.” He doesn’t cry but is sensitive to our emotions and so I explained to him that we might all be sad for the next few days. That night, when he came home from school he asked, “Where’s Bonnie? Where’s her crate?” I couldn’t stand looking at her empty bed so we had collapsed her crate and put it in the garage. I had to explain to him all over again that Bonnie was dead, “Do you remember?” Yes.
He has been quieter than usual and is obviously coping with her loss in his own way, as we all are. The difference with Harry is that he can’t tell us what he is feeling. Superficially at least it appears that death touches Harry only very lightly. But we have no real way of knowing.
Bonnie had a profound impact on all our lives, so much so that we can’t imagine not having a dog around the house. RIP Bonnie.