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A friend in need…

November 21, 2012

…is a friend indeed. Even if the friend wees on your kitchen floor and chews your chair legs.

This morning I went down to my favourite woods to plant spring bulbs on the grave of my dear late companion, my black spaniel. I visit her often on my walks. On Tuesday it will be four months since she died. I still miss her like a hole in my ribcage.

Had I been alone, it would have been a tearful task. But I am lucky enough to have had another companion with me. Tarka, our new spaniel puppy, now three months old, bounded cheerfully along to the headstone by my side,

and even offered to help me with the bulb planting.

I hope the bulbs will grow. I hope they will have the chance to flower – grape hyacinth, crocus, narcissi – before the pheasants and field mice nibble them. Here’s to new life out of old.

If you’re in the mood, you might like Pathetic fallacy.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 3:01 pm

    Oh Dancing Beastie – what a heart-rending little piece…(*snif) but I am heartened by the thought of those lovely enthusiastic puppypaws “helping” you dig and plant. Even if spanielaciuos hounds don’t dig, Tarka has a kind face such lovely eyes, I would imagine she will sit down and fix you with “that” look…which warms the heart, melts the icy-grief splinters and makes just want to stroke the ears..x

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 21, 2012 10:08 pm

      Yes, she is a great help in cheering everyone up. She’s not such a gentle personality as my last dog, but she has settled in quickly as part of the family and even endures my regular cuddles. The ears are wonderful. 🙂

  2. November 21, 2012 6:33 pm

    Glad you had little Tarka with you to make things a little bit easier. It’s awful when you lose a family member – human, canine, feline or otherwise. Having said that, your black spaniel had a good life and was well-loved, but left a big spaniel-shaped hole in your life. Tarka will help make things better 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 21, 2012 10:11 pm

      A spaniel-shaped hole – yes indeed. But thanks, Tarka does help us all.

  3. November 21, 2012 6:41 pm

    There is nothing like those soulful spaniel eyes. I’m so glad you found another spaniel companion. They all have their own unique qualities that so enrich our lives. One can never replace another.
    Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving in America. I will be without all our beloved pets but know they will be well cared for. The humans in my family are with our nine year old daughter and sister who has had surgery in another state. We have been away for almost a month. We all miss our animals very much. We love reading Dancing Beasties. What a beautiful little girl you have. Congratulations!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 21, 2012 10:19 pm

      It must be dreadfully hard for your family to be dealing with surgery, and all its associated worries, so far from home and from beloved pets. Just think what a wonderful welcome they will give you when you come home again!
      I am very glad to know that you enjoy Dancing Beastie, and I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe and healthy homecoming.

  4. November 21, 2012 7:23 pm

    Oh, such a bittersweet post, but lovely Tarka is a blessing.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 21, 2012 10:20 pm

      She is indeed: we are very thankful for her.

  5. November 21, 2012 8:37 pm

    A little one trying hard to understand and fix it. Our rescued pup is so sweet and joyful – but driving us insane chewing and being naughty when she wants attention ( and she knows exactly what she is doing!). But bless them, they are so dear.
    (but wish Molly would stop pulling up all the irises)

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 21, 2012 10:24 pm

      Oh dear, puppies and gardens don’t mix, do they! Or puppies and chairs, come to that, or puppies and soft furnishings, or puppies and good clothes…. Ours is thundering around the family ‘den’ as I write, squeaking her soft toy, taking the odd chew of the side table and occasionally launching a hit-and-run attack on our long-suffering Westie. Good luck with Molly! 🙂

  6. November 22, 2012 7:35 pm

    Such a fine stone to mark the last resting place of your much-loved companion. The hole in the rib-cage will never quite go away but your sweet young spaniel will help and your heart will just expand to create a special space for Tarka. Her eyes are identical to those of my young rescue dog, Miss P, who is a bit of mixture – part collie,part Saluki and quite a lot, I suspect, of springer spaniel. As one of my closest friends remarked when she first saw Miss P, ‘She has kind eyes’ and I can see that same kindness shining out of Tarka’s eyes.

    Impossible, I think, to imagine a life without dogs. Well, I can imagine it but it is not a life I would want, despite the grief we experience when they leave us. They bring so much love into our lives and that love remains with us for ever.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 24, 2012 11:34 pm

      I wouldn’t want a life without dogs either. It’s sad that so many elderly people have to leave such companionship behind when they go into retirement homes; which is why I had just started the paperwork to make my last dog an official ‘Therapet’ or home visitor when she was killed. I hope that in due course Tarka might prove suitable for the same sort of work. She is not as overtly loving as the last one, but she is steady and kind, I think.

      Thank you for your comforting and reassuring words. The headstone is rough-edged green Cumbrian slate, cut and inscribed by a gifted stonemason who lives up the glen from us. He did a fine job.

  7. November 22, 2012 7:51 pm

    Beautiful and thank you for sharing! So hard to say goodbye but look at those lovely eyes…This new friend is going to be a blessing!
    Hugs to all,

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 24, 2012 11:35 pm

      Thanks, Noelle. We certainly feel blessed with our new friend.

  8. November 23, 2012 1:27 pm

    I’m very close to tears for the loss of your old dog… poor thing. But Tarka is beautiful and in years to come will be loved (and probably spoilt!) I started reading this and as I came to “Even if the friend wees on your kitchen floor” I laughed. Yes…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 24, 2012 11:39 pm

      Breaking news: today was the first day we got through without a single ‘accident’ in the house. Progress! Sometimes I wonder if we should have spent a little more time mourning in peace before another puppy came on the scene, but it was serendipity, really. Tarka was offered to us by generous friends and was a great blessing at a sad time. She is already loved and will undoubtedly be a little spoilt! 🙂

  9. November 25, 2012 3:38 am

    I hope your bulbs make it until spring, too. I imagine eventually there will be a beautiful carpet of native plants there. I am thinking of some of the photos you have taken in the spring of new life, and I can see that happening in this special place. When our Boxer died this summer I planted a Mountain Pepper for him and I am hoping it survives the winter so I can see it’s little white star flowers this spring. There’s something about the act of planting in remembrance that seems to ease these hard transitions.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 27, 2012 8:40 pm

      I’m sorry you lost a beloved dog too. The mountain pepper sounds lovely. Planting is so symbolic and cathartic. My father died one November, and my husband said he barely saw me smile again until one weekend the following March, when I was digging into the earth to plant out new seedlings. Such an act of faith in the future.

  10. November 25, 2012 7:21 pm

    A bitter-sweet post,DB, but I’m so glad you have Tarka, not to fill the hole left by your beloved friend, but to make her own special place in your heart. You’ve had so much grief this year that it would have been quite wrong to refuse this healing gift. I too hope your bulbs flourish.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 27, 2012 8:42 pm

      Thank you for your wise and compassionate words, Perpetua.

  11. November 26, 2012 9:51 pm

    I’m glad you had Tarka for company and to “help” with planting. I hope the bulbs survive the winter too. They are all the more amazing when they do appear because of the adversity they have survived. A bright flower after a dark winter. Tarka won’t replace your other beloved companion but I’m sure she will find her place in your heart too. When I lost my gentle Fitzi-cat I longed for another companion like him. But I knew I would never find one *exactly* the same. And, though my dear Button is completely different, she brings joy to me in so many ways. I hope the same if true for your lovely Tarka with the flying ears!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 27, 2012 8:45 pm

      All new life is miraculous in a way, isn’t it? Flowers out of the cold earth. Here’s hoping. And thank goodness for the bond between humans and animals, which does bring – along with infuriating moments like discovering puppy has chewed up a present just bought for a friend’s new baby! – such joy. 🙂

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