Thursday, 8 March 2012

For Graham

It was 16 years ago when you came to live with me from Saudi Arabia. You were apparently bred for dog-fighting but had contracted distemper and were expected to die. You were just six weeks old and so weak that I left you in a box in the garden and vowed not to get too attached.

But you were obviously stronger than you looked and had a fierce determination that belied how weak and frail your little body was. So I allowed myself to get a little bit closer and moved you into the house.

I gave you a person’s name, not a dog’s: Graham.

You were so clever… and cheeky! You pretended to be ill, even when the vet gave you the all clear, just so I would carry you around.

We went everywhere together! The only dog allowed in restaurants in Bahrain because you gave the Manager those ‘feel sorry for me eyes’ as your chin rested on my shoulder with your paws holding around my neck.

You sure knew how to play to the crowd, Graham, and everyone that met you fell in love with you.

A year later, I threw a stick into the sea for you to fetch. You came out struggling to carry what looked like a sack of rubbish. I tried to pull you away but you refused to move.

Inside were nine little puppies. Six were dead but three were alive.

We took them home with us – they were so ill. One died that night, but I nursed the other two back to health as you kept a vigil next to them.

They became your sisters and the three of you became the best of friends. As the ‘big brother’ you always looked out for them – Jau and Asker – named after the beach where you found them. Asker still lives with me today, an old lady of 15.

I can’t believe that it is six and a half years since I came to meet you, and your sisters, at Heathrow Airport. You had travelled 4,000miles to be with me. That was the happiest day of my life.  I had received the call the night before to say that you had boarded the flight but I was too nervous to call the next morning to make sure that you had made it.

My mum and I waited anxiously at the Animal Reception Centre. A nurse came out and started speaking…

“The dobermann….” she began.

I held my breath…

You had been so nervous on the flight that you had had a really upset stomach and were being cleaned up.

The three of you came through a few minutes later. I will never forget those licks and cuddles as I fell to the floor – all four of us unable to contain our excitement and relief at seeing each other again.

My dream came true a few months later as I watched you running through the green fields of England – you loved those summer days!

But time can be cruel and, sadly, dogs don’t live as long as man and three years ago you suffered, not one, but two strokes. Once again you weren’t expected to live, and, once again, you defied all odds and, not only survived, but walked and even ran again!

Easter Sunday last year loomed warm and Sunday and my friend, Juliet, and I had chosen that day to plant some herbs in the garden and have a barbeque.

You were in the shade of the house but came outside to eat your dinner. You had that little smile on your face as you ran back towards me in the kitchen.

Then you sat down. I knew you so well. I knew that something was terribly wrong. Don’t ask me how I knew. I just did. You see I knew you so well.

I held your paw then, as you breathed your last breath and slipped away from me.

You were my best-friend and unofficial protector, we looked out for each other. We had a secret language between us that only dog-owners will understand.

 It’s almost a year now, Graham, since I last rubbed your ear between my fingers as your head rested on my knee but I think of you everyday.

Some days I smile at the fun times we had and other days I cry that I will never, in this life, see you again.

But one thing I feel every single day is grateful… Grateful to have had your unconditional love for 15 years… What a boy and what a life!

Thank you Graham…


  1. This is such a lovely blog. Brought a tear to my eye xxx

  2. Oh my goodness, Angela, I'm crying!!!! What a wonderful tribute xxx