Over the last few months, numerous people have urged me to get another dog and I readily accept that these things have been said to me with the best of intentions. I greatly appreciate these kind thoughts, because despite the fact that I fell ill as long ago as the evening of March 10th 2016 and later underwent surgery on March 31st in London’s Royal Brompton hospital, I am still not entirely recovered from the whole ordeal, which makes me more appreciative than ever of all those people who wish me well.
Nonetheless, my answer to the idea of having a dog for a companion once again must be a firm “no”, so I shall explain why because I’m very grateful to everyone who is sure my life would be of a higher quality with another dog by my side, while I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was being irrational, unreasonable or overly sentimental because of my refusal.
To begin with, there are some sound, practical reasons for not having a dog now. Without going into the minutiae of my medical condition, my legs – and occasionally, my shoulders and arms – ache badly after just a short walk, a condition that I presume is due to the medication I’m taking. It’s frustrating for me, not least because I used to walk for miles every day prior to being hospitalised, while there was a time when Blueboy and I would roam the wilds of Salisbury Plain for hours on end each day when we all lived in Wiltshire.
Yes, I am regularly seeing my doctor and specialist nurses, but despite all our best efforts, walking is an ordeal for me still, however much I enjoy being outdoors. If I were ever to have another dog, I’d want another decent-sized creature, as Blueboy was in life, and animals like this need long, regular walks, a form of exercise and relaxation I just cannot embark upon right now because it’s physically impossible.
A few people have suggested that I get an older dog who needs less exercise, but I wouldn’t want to be constantly mindful of the mortality and limited days of such an animal. I’m a country boy and I was raised as one, so I’ve long been aware that death is part of life, but it was very tough not only for me, but also for my family when Blueboy’s time came, so this is not something I want to put myself through again.
I could ponder these matters out loud for a long time to come, but perhaps the main reason for my choice is that Blueboy was an one-off event for me. I had grown up surrounded by animals of different kinds, including numerous dogs, but I had never owned one or had one as a personal companion until the day when we collected Blueboy from a farm near to our home on Salisbury Plain. I was persuaded to get a dog because my two children were young at the time and because we lived in the middle of a vast, open, wild expanse of countryside, so there quickly came a point where I couldn’t argue against the idea of having a dog in our lives and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I don’t intend to let him disappear into history, so I intend to recall his life and times, or as much of them as I can remember, in the form of a book entitled Blueboy – A Doggy Tale. Before I embark on that particular exercise, though, I’ve promised myself that I will write an elegy for him, because it is within my power to do so and because I feel a deep-rooted need to mark his passing in such a way.
He was my wonderful boy. He was my companion and he was my friend, so I’m grateful beyond words that he came into my life and enriched it to the huge degree that he did, making my family deliriously happy for years on end in the process. I know full well that there are millions of people in Britain alone who love their dogs and other pets with a passion, so I don’t in any way torment myself that I’m alone in my loss.
I’m sorry that Blueboy’s gone and there are times when I miss him so badly that I find my eyes moistening, but these times are few and far between. For the most part, I still feel that he’s around me, here in my home, and this is a good feeling, while my memories of him combine with the awareness of his continued presence to give me a warm rosy glow, although there are still occasions when I heave a weary sigh on account of his absence.
On balance, however, I feel I’m ahead, so while I’ll readily acknowledge that it’s possible that I’ll one day get another dog, it’s certainly not going to happen anytime soon. The time will come when I write at length about these matters, but for now, I’m still in the process of recovering from the traumas brought to me by the Ides of March last year. The combined memories and presence of Blueboy continue to help me through this process, so I’m content with the way things are and I don’t intend to change them.