Unknown - 12/07/12
It's a beautiful morning. The sun shines. The Buddleia in the corner of the patio is ablaze with butterflies. But as I sit there having my customary eleven o clock mug of coffee, a tear runs down my cheek. My hand slides down the side of the chair, to where our little terrier would normally be stretched out basking in the warmth of that sunshine, his lips curled back in a contented smile. But no longer. Arthur-Rex is dead. Cruelly take from us last year. Snatched after eight years of delightful companionship. And my heart is heavy with grief.
In his time with us, our little terrier, Arthur-Rex, helped to shape my life.
It was eight years ago when we first met. We were on a family holiday together - my wife, Maxeen, and daughter Rebecca who was 27 at the time. It was the last day of a week's stay in Tobago. We were lying on sun loungers on Rex Turtle beach when a commotion down on the shore line made me sit up. Squinting against the sun, I could just see a tiny young dog being chased by a pack of mangy brown hounds. The terrier hurtled up across the beach and dived under Rebecca's lounger, turning to yap at the strays which stopped to circle round before leaping away as Rebecca sat up and shooed them off.
To my horror, she then leaned under the lounger and scooped the little terrier up, making reassuring noises as she did so.
All I could think of was Rabies. Fleas. Lice. Mange.
But when the young dog looked up at Rebecca and licked her face, his destiny was sealed.
A call through to the local rescue society established that it would be no problem shipping the dog back to the UK for us.
And within seven months, to include six months in a UK quarantine kennels, Arthur-Rex arrived at our home in West Sussex.
We reckoned he was about eight months old and was apprehensive as to what our 10 year old Jack Russell would make of him. We needn't have worried. After the initial wary sniff they gave each other, they immediately became close buddies. The beanbag in front of the Aga was shared. Mock dog fights each morning, chasing each other round the kitchen table, pinning each other down by the ear or locking jaws; and king-of-the-castle leaps on and off the settee of an evening. Joyful entertainment for everyone.
When Pip passed away two years' later, Arthur-Rex became even more special and commanded an even greater place in our hearts.
He was a smart looking dog. We guessed half Chihuahua, half Tobagian feral hound. He had a domed head, pointed ears, slightly bulging brown eyes, and perfectly symmetrical facial markings in tan and black. As he matured he developed a thick tan mane and his curled tail became a plume of fur. Extremely photogenic.
And indeed, his pictures sported many of the features I had begun to write: and when my first novel, Pets in a Pickle, was published, Arthur-Rex appeared on the back cover. His own dog blog soon followed; and on Twitter he built up several hundred followers who were greeted on first contact with a high five paw.
He went on to make an appearance on Channel 5 news as part of a healthy heart campaign to show that having to walk a dog is good exercise for you. Newscaster, John Suchet remarked, 'What a splendid little dog.'
And Arthur-Rex's stoicism and his gentlemanly behaviour impressed Cesar Millan, the international dog whisperer, when they were first introduced to each other. I was nervous at meeting such a famous man with his wealth of knowledge of dog behaviour.
'Look,' said Cesar with a smile as Arthur-Rex turned to look up at me and gave me a reassuring lick of my hand. 'I can see you two are great buddies.'
He was right. Oh so right.
There was once an overnight stay at a five star country hotel, voted the best pet friendly hotel in the UK by AA members. Arthur-Rex was given five star treatment with a tray of treats and black poo bags tied with gold ribbon. He seemed completely unfazed by his opulent surroundings - majestic, sparkling chandeliers, heavy velvet drapes and a quilt-covered bed, onto which he immediately sprang to settle down between the tassled cushions.
I pause in my writing and sigh as I picture him that day. He was 'King Arthur'. What a far cry from his beach-bum days.
When dear Arthur-Rex succumbed to a acute respiratory condition - it killed him with on 48 hours despite intensive care treatment and hospitalisation in an oxygen tent - there was no question of where he was to be buried. Across the lawn from the back kitchen window is an immature oak tree. Arthur-Rex used to bask in the sun near this tree, moving into its dappled shade should it get to hot for him on the open lawn.
Arthur-Rex has been laid to rest there, wrapped in his favourite tartan blanket under which he used to snuggle in front of the Aga. A heap of blanket would greet me every morning. I'd gently ease it away to reveal Arthur-Rex, sprawled on his back, legs in the air. I'd tickle his tummy saying, 'Morning Arthur-Rex.'
He'd gaze up at me with those warm brown eyes of his and his lips would curl back in a delightful grin.
I'm crying now as I remember those mornings.
But I'm sure Arthur-Rex is still grinning as he now stretches out on a pillow of cloud.......
Malcolm D. Welshman is author of Pets in a Pickle a Number 2 Kindle Bestseller
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15/03/83 - 12/07/03
Rough haired Collie
Honey, my beloved soul mate. You always knew how I felt and would be there for me. Such a loving, loyal companion, perfect in every way. You were a brilliant 'Nanny' for the grandchildren, making sure they didn't come to any harm, and being their 'cuddle-up' when they wanted a love, which was often. We would walk for miles, me and you, no collar or lead needed, you were so good, only left me when I said 'go play'. Take care my beloved girl, 'go play ' with Billy, who was your companion for a while, and wait at the Rainbow Bridge until your mum joins you both and we can all be together again. love you always xxx
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