Unfortunately this week we had to say goodbye to my Border Collie Guinness.
From wandering around as usual, pestering me to finish work at 5pm and throw his ball on Friday, to stealing a pizza from the lads and relaxing in the garden on Saturday while they had a fire, he suddenly collapsed on Sunday. After an overnight stay in the emergency vets where they kept him stable, the daytime vet then found that one of his kidneys was the size of a cats and not working, and the other kidney was covered in a large cist as well as cists on his pancreas. The vet couldn’t believe how he hadn’t shown any signs of illness beforehand, but in true Guinness style he kept things hidden and kept going until he couldn’t anymore.
When he was 2 he developed a blocked salivary gland. He continued running and enjoying agility despite it, but when the vets decided the best thing to do was operate to remove it and got inside him they could not believe how he’d been running around still despite the size of it! He has always been such a determined, tenacious dog.
So on Monday 14th November 2022 we sat with Guinness as his passed away, as peacefully as possible. He had been slightly sedated to keep him comfortable so I’m really grateful that he wasn’t stressed or struggling as he isn’t a fan of the vets.
The shock of the suddenness of it all has been the hardest thing.
At his last monthly vet trip for his librela injection I said to the vet how I thought he would be with us for a while to come hopefully, as despite some stiffness from his arthritis he was still going strong.
Despite being a wonderful 13 years old we just feel like we had so much longer with him. It’s devastating to think we will never see him again. I’ll never have that wet nose come and rest on my leg when he is fed up of me sitting at my desk still. I am grieving for my nephew who would always ask my Mum “Is Guinness at your house today?” when she picked him up from school each week. I’m grieving for my unborn child who won’t meet him. I’m grieving for my husband who has lost a close friend, the dog that has been with us since we got together and joined us for so many camping trips, holidays, days out and moved with us into our first ever home. For as long as there has been the two of us there has actually been the three of us.
I was an 19 year old university student when I managed to convince my Mum to allow me to have a dog. I’d known all my life that I wanted to be a dog trainer and I had this dream of owning a Border Collie. I would watch the Heelwork to Music displays at Crufts with fascination and knew they were considered the most intelligent breed. I had a dream to train my own Collie to do tricks and go round doing talks and displays about dogs. In October 2009 my good friend drove me all the way to Scotland and back to pick up this little bundle of fluff. Guinness.
Well it turned out I knew nothing about dogs. Unfortunately at the time Cesar Millan was the main source of dog training information and a few people I knew who had recently had puppies talked to me about his methods and how they had worked. I was a naïve yet cocky teenager who didn’t know better and I made some choices that I will always regret.
The great thing about dogs is that they can forgive you and the mistakes I made weren’t enough to leave too many lasting effects. As Guinness and I attended workshops and training courses together I developed my skills and established my own set of ethics around dog training methods.
We attended agility and obedience classes. We tried rally and had a go at tricks. We had recall problems and I made mistakes and encouraged bad habits, such as begging in the kitchen and barking, but we had fun and joy and laughter and love.
I will be forever grateful for the time and experiences I had with Guinness.
I’m grateful that his final meal was that pizza he stole.
I’m grateful that he had a final run at our favourite beach with Ash a month ago.
I’m grateful for the fantastic relationship he had with my nephew.
I’m grateful that he was there for our wedding.
While the shock of his sudden departure is hard to bear, I’m also grateful that he didn’t suffer and that we didn’t need to watch him deteriorate or struggle with knowing when was the right time.
We can’t change what has happened or dwell on wishing what could have been, it is what it is and it hurts and it sucks right now, and it always will, but we are always (hopefully) going to outlive our dogs.