Supper with Octavia tonight for the first time in a while, so some catching up on how the Grey Ninja coped, first with a house full of people at Octavia’s mother’s over Christmas, then the return home to the smells of three Labrador retrievers who had been there in her absence. Fine. She has come a long long way from the cat who needed to urinate over anything and everything to mark her presence and assert her right to be. For which Octavia must take the credit. The best thing you can give an animal is the feeling of safety, to establish trust which then, if you are lucky, leads too love. The Grey Ninja, and her ginger counterpart MasterB, have decided they are safe, they trust they love. Yes, I am blowing my own trumpet too, because I know Himself has confidence in me which I have earned. It’s not that different with humans.
Last week I clicked on an Instagram picture posted by Steve of https://outwardhounds.wordpress.com. It was of Miles, one of The Pack. The photo was in black and white, which was probably a clue. A clue I missed. Miles has died. Like Terry Jones, he has gone to meet his maker and join the choir invisible. I never met Miles, or Terry Jones, although for many years the latter lived not far from me, and I learned this week went to the boy’ grammar school in the town where later I went to the girls’, but I shed a tear for both dog and man. Both have enriched my life.
I was a teenager when Monty Python hit our black and white tv screen. It was a programme I enjoyed with my father, a programme eagerly discussed at school the next day with my peers. It imprinted on me at a very impressionable time in my life. Life of Brian remains a favourite film, I remember queuing to see it in Manchester. The Holy Grail seems fresh today, and were he still alive, I am sure Terry Jones would have enjoyed this. I know I did.
I don’t remember how I came across Steve’s blog, but I do remember laughing at the Meet the Pack page. Ever since I have been a regular follower, enjoying vicariously the hikes, worrying about the health of the dogs, enjoying the progress of the new puppy, Ash. And above all, even above Steve’s writing, which is superb, appreciating how much he and his partner love their dogs, make sure the dogs have the best life they can have, are dogs who are happy, loved, secure.
Michael Palin’s interview on the BBC when he choked back tears following his good friend’s death will have caused many more tears to flow in sympathy and recognition. Death hurts those who are left, not those who die. This is the last post Steve wrote about Miles, the death defying dog, who has now gone into that good night, no doubt leaving Steve as tearful and bereft as Michael Palin.
Dog, cat or man, it’s the same; if we have loved them, their deaths leave us naked, raw, untethered. We can only trust in the love we had being an anchor for our grief, a continuing consolation, a gateway to acceptance.