Early morning with Hamish

Early morning, just after sunrise, is my favourite time of day.

Sitting outside in our courtyard garden, enjoying the quiet and solitude of a summer’s morning, the air filled with the perfume of gardenia and honeysuckle, I watch small, whispy, pink-tinged clouds float across the sky, whilst I listen to the early morning birdsong and the church clock chiming every 30 minutes. A large mug of hot, fresh coffee sits in front of me on my little mosaic bistro table, and I am at peace with the world.

He sits quietly, sharing my morning world.

Sitting at my right hand side is my big beautiful boy, Hamish, a golden retriever of gigantic proportions. This is our ‘together time’. As I sit stroking his big, smooth head and long silky ears, he sits quietly, sharing my morning world. Just the two of us, our time, before the noise and bustle of the day takes over.

However, something changed last week and today I am sitting outside with my mug of coffee, but...

Hamish was taken from us just four days’ ago. It all happened so quickly. He didn’t seem his usual self, he was panting, drooling and his breath was very unpleasant. We took him to the vet, expecting it to be nothing more serious than a rotten tooth. However, when the vet told us it was a tumour, and we saw the big black lump at the back of his throat, we were devastated. She told us it was an aggressive form of oral cancer was incurable. We had no choice, but to end his suffering.

We arrived back home with him at 4.00 pm, knowing we had only sixteen more precious hours to share. Strangely, there was peace and resignation in his eyes, as if he was grateful that we finally understood why he hadn’t been his usual playful self for a couple of weeks.

The following morning, as he padded up his ramp into the back of the car I felt my heart would break but I was determined to be cheerful and upbeat for him right to the end.

Our vet, Jane, was wonderful. She was so compassionate and gentle with him. My husband and I hugged and stroked him as he fell asleep. And then it was over. Our beautiful gentle giant was at peace. We stayed with him for around 10 minutes, both of us with tears streaming down our faces, and then we said goodbye for one last time.

At home, his sister was waiting for his return. Molly, our three legged retriever, had lost her lifelong buddy and we knew we had to focus on her to help her adjust to this new situation. She’s seems to be doing just fine and appears to welcome the fact that she no longer has to share the attention and cuddles with her brother. Dogs never fail to amaze, do they?

The big, soft muzzle is no longer resting on the arm of the chair.

Everyone who knew Hamish loved him and he loved them. He wasn’t the brightest of boys and I always believed that when God was handing out brains he had only a small size left for Hamish so he compensated by giving him the biggest, most gentle, loving heart.

And so, here I am, sitting in the courtyard at 5.00 am, listening to the bird chorus. The perfume of the honeysuckle is in the air and I am sipping my mug of fresh coffee, whilst the tears spill down my cheeks. That big, soft muzzle is no longer resting on the arm of the chair. Those beautiful brown, trusting eyes are no longer gazing at me as he delights in his head being stroked and his long, soft ears being caressed.

Time heals everything, so it is said, but, right now I cannot visualise a time when my early mornings will ever again hold peace and pleasure for me.

I find myself stroking the air where his head should be and talking softly to him. I’m sure that this morning he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said ‘Thank you Mummy, you gave me a wonderful life, and when it was time, you loved me enough to let me go’.


This is a personal essay by Lizzie Moodie. Want to submit your own writing? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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