Three years ago, give a take a week or so, I saw a photo of a dog on a Facebook rescue page. The photo was shared to me by a friend and it was of a very sad looking dog who’d been in a Spanish pound for three years. THREE YEARS. Five months is considered a long time in a British pound and dogs are reasonably well looked after but three years in a Spanish pound where the dogs are treated like shit? No wonder he looked sad.
The charity I got him from was basically shit and there was a lot of problems before he finally arrived home. This sounds crazy but I missed him before he got here and I was desperate to see him. His Spanish name was Relampago which means streak of lightening and he was well named but I called him Ogden.
He arrived six inches taller than I’d been told and 10 kilos heavier and he was 5 kilos overweight. He hadn’t had a walk all the time he’s been in the pound and he had a scar on his back that had been caused by either acid, hot fat or hot metal. He had scars in his ears and he was nervous.
As soon as he arrived, after having the longest pee ever and a quick snack (two days by road from Spain = little food in case of travel sickness and few stops) I took him out for his first walk.
It was evening so the streets were quite quiet and we could walk around without him being too scared of things. He didn’t know where to look first – everything and anything drew his eye. He kept bumping into things because he couldn’t concentrate. There was one or two poo related accidents at home but that was because he didn’t know where to go.
I’d got him a bed, a cushion and a fleece to encourage him to find his own sleeping space and he refused to use them. He didn’t know that he was allowed to sleep on something soft and it took several weeks for him to sleep in the bed. He had three in the end!
He didn’t wag his tail for ages. He seemed to be convinced that I wasn’t going to be around long and I think he was scared about getting attached to me.
Right from the start people told me how handsome he was and were suprised that I’d just got him because they thought we looked so right together and we did. We complemented each other perfectly and we’re both a bit on the batty side so it was a match made in heaven.
He wasn’t just a good dog he was one of the great dogs. He had healing properties. That sounds all new agey and religious but he had an amazing way with people that I’d never seen in other dogs.
Once when we were on the way to the train station for a day out a guy stopped us and asked if he could smooth Ogden because he felt depressed and needed a lift. By the time we walked away to catch our train the guy was visibly better.
In Bromley, London and Bristol disable people approached us and asked to fuss over him and he really brightened them up. Everyone felt better when they met Ogden, he was truly one of the great dogs.
Last Wednesday morning we went out for our walk first thing. He’d had a few problems for a few days but on that morning he was obviously not well at all and I knew that there was only one thing to do. I rang my vet and we arranged to have him put to sleep at lunchtime the same day.
I rang Rob who had looked after him when I went away on every Wednesday afternoon for since he got to England and told him and asked him to come with me. I rang my sister and she listened while my heart broke.
I took Ogden round to Rob’s house to pick him up to go to the vet and so that his mum and dad could say goodbye to him too.
He had lots ot treats that morning, probably about a weeks worth but the smile on his face as he ate them was wonderful.
The vet was kind. She laid a blanket on the floor and we had 15 minutes with him in private to say our goodbye and then came back with a sedative that sent him off into a deep sleep and left us with him again. After we’d had time talking to him and hugging him she came back, gave him his injections and we held him and each others hands as she monitored his life signs until he stopped breathiing and she could confirm that Ogden, who had been alive that morning and had been the centre of my work for 2 years and 8 months was no longer alive.
I miss coming home and hearing him bark as I open the gate. I miss shouting, “Have you been a good boy?” as I come through the door. I miss taking his collar off every afternoon and grooming him. I miss singing You Are My Sunshine to him and having him snuggle tightly in as I sing. I miss him nudging at me every morning to get out of bed so he can start his day. I miss his dog smell and the fur he shed everywhere. I miss him the dog I longed to arrive and thought would live forever.
He safe now, his illness was swift and the solution was equally as swift.
I’m being taken for coffee by so many people that I’ve lost count and I’m rearranging my time so life can change back to being about me and not about him.
His first four years of life were fucking awful but the two years and eight months he had with me were the way his life should have been lived. He had lovely beds, he had good food, he had antlers to chew on, he had me and his extended family to lovely him and he was free.
I cannot begin to describe how much I miss him or how much I will miss him but I’m so glad I had him with me. I will never forget him and I will never stop loving him.