This page is dedicated to Casper and Ben – two of the best companions a man could have – Brendan Clarke (Head Vet)
Meet Casper! He’s hiding in the picture above. This very spot is now where his ashes, and the ashes of his brother Ben, are scattered. Losing them both, very close to each other, was simply heartbreaking. Casper was approaching 15 at the time back in January 2010, and Ben was 12 – both good ages for Labradors and for that we were very lucky to have had the pleasure of their company for so long. Lots of memories, lots of photos and no regrets at all.
Ben had a nasty liver tumour I had diagnosed a year earlier – he defied the odds and carried on with life as if nothing was wrong at all, literally the most remarkable and admirable companion. He remained absolutely fine as Casper suddenly started deteriorating with age – he was my first companion after I left university and started my first proper job as a fully fledged vet and had been through what felt like everything with me. He lost his co-ordination in his hind legs, and on 17th January 2010 I had to say goodbye one last time.
Ben, who hadn’t shown a single symptom of his cancer for a almost a year other than a swollen tummy where his liver was clearly enlarged, couldn’t deal with losing his brother. It was a strange and surreal time as we watched the tumour start to grow again, Ben lost his condition in his hind legs and down his back. Being a Labrador, he was still eating and being a particularly greedy one he was still eating like a horse but continued losing weight. Within that month after loosing Casper, Ben gave up and he let go of life, and on the 19th February I was in an all too familiar situation saying a final goodbye to Ben too.
This is a familiar situation working as a veterinary surgeon in practice, and I would say that not one euthanasia consult goes past without the sadness that surrounds those final goodbye’s. Our team wanted to offer the opportunity to remember those that have passed, recently and not so recently, so we invite you to write a ‘memory’ of your pet. You can tell us about them, their funny traits, your best memory, or simply just tell us what happened and how great they were in tribute to them. It can be therapeutic, and it can help both you and our team remember how great all our companions are – and that it’s completely normal to grieve for their loss.
We’d love to introduce you to Digga, who we had to say a sad goodbye to at the end of last year (2017).
MEMORIES OF DIGGA by Mrs Novak
Digga and I were closer to each other than bark on a tree, and without the use of language we understood each other.
To most people he was a noisy little terrier who barked at anyone passing by in the street, and created havoc in the reception area at Towerwood, where on numerous occasions we were ushered to a spare consultation room and into our very own private waiting room!
Of course in my eyes he was the cutest, cleverest, most perfect creature God ever created, and my constant companion. I brought him home as an 8 week old puppy – who fit into the palms of my two cupped hands – in October 2000 from Spalding in Lincolnshire.
The very first vet to see Digga on the occasion of his initial vaccination – said – ( after witnessing him sneakily nibble the corner of a towel draped on a radiator and slowly pull it to the floor) ….
“You’re going to have your hands full with that one”
Of course he was right!
The first rule of being a terrier is that you have to be nosey (as well as noisy!). Any friend who came to the house had to watch her handbag as he would be in there ferreting around before you had the chance to say “Oy!” He just had to see what was in there and always pulled something out, even if it was just a used tissue.
The second rule is that grooming is for sissies! He was as slippery as an eel on a slab of ice when it came to me trying to catch him clean his eyes, ears, or try and brush him…
… and bath time only happened when he had rolled in something unsavoury at Golden Acre.
Many a time he could be seen in the back of my car wearing an Asda carrier bag with his head and feet sticking, which was my effort to contain the product and stench of the ‘you know what’ until I got him home.
He tolerated the shampooing as if he knew he was in trouble and had better keep quiet. After drying him as best I could with the towels that were on standby, he would follow up with a manic running around of the house shaking off remains of water. The finished result of this routine and the appearance of him once dry was one of his hair standing on end and looking like he had had a fright in a wind tunnel !
He loved being off the lead in Golden Acre and in the woods there. As a Patterdale he was very fast, but could never understand why he couldn’t catch a squirrel. Come to think of it – neither could I! I can see his puzzled little face now staring up a tree in disbelief.
Unfortunately Digga did not enjoy the best of health and developed pancreatitis before his first birthday. I spent many days, but mainly nights nursing him, administering homeopathic tinctures every 10 -15 minutes for up to 6 treatments, in conjunction with conventional painkillers. He spent many hours – indeed many nights, in the back garden eating grass in order to make himself sick, and in bad weather I would follow him round holding an umbrella over him to stop the rain and sometimes snow from falling on him. I could only imagine the discomfort he was in so I never noticed how chilly I was in my dressing gown.
At the age of about 10 Digga had two growths removed followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. Of course good health outweighed the bad and when he was well we had great times, and I was fortunate to have him with me for as long as I did considering his health issues.
Now, alongside the broken heart, I have 17 years’ worth of lovely memories and enough photos to fill the Town Hall and bore any non- animal lover to sobs.