My dear beloved friend Gurkha left us today. Aged 13, he was everything one could ever hope for in a best friend. Loyal, uncomplaining, consistent; he gave us not a moment of trouble, worry or concern from the moment he arrived at home all those years ago. In fact, he was as good a Labrador as you'll ever see. Fit but gentle, alert but not aggressive, playful but not indisciplined.
He's been part of the family, part of the children's growing up, part of us and we're all going to miss him dreadfully. He suffered a mini stroke last week and bless him, he's been a bit unsteady on his pins but lived out his last days without complaint and with comfort and bucket loads of TLC. The life force though has been draining from him day by day and the time came to do the right thing before he started suffering. It was peaceful and dignified.
When Gurkha arrived, he joined the irascible rogue that was Zulu who was a completely different character. Long since passed, there wasn't a neighbour within miles who hadn't found Zulu rooting around their bin, 'your blasted dog has just walked mud all over my new carpet. Kindly come and remove him." Zulu looked and acted the part though. I remember standing on a gun line with him in Dorset waiting for the birds to come over and I saw his tail suddenly pick up and much to my embarrassment he must have chased the deer he'd spotted on the hillside all the way to Devon before he eventually came back with a look of self satisfaction. I lost much of my appetite for shooting when we lost him. I still miss him, just as I'll miss Gurkha. Boy these dogs get under your skin.
We're left with Gunner and Diesel. Gunner is getting on too, is a bit arthritic and so is much like his owner. At some point we'll acquire a new puppy to join the younger and more exuberant Diesel but not for a wee while. First we mourn our friend, noble and decent fellow that he was.