In memory of an old friend

2013-03-07 00:00

OUR dog died yesterday. She was 14 years old. In our terms, about 90. We dug her grave one and a half metres deep in anticipation of her demise, and we bought 10 kilograms of lime from Hopewell Supplies in Howick for R25 (it costs R110 at the nursery).

We chose Candy 13 years ago from the SPCA in Estcourt. She was a mildly dangerous-looking brak, who, when we came to know her, was a healthy wimp in a wolf skin. She had only a few visits to the vet in all the time we knew her.

In her youth, she could catch a dog-food-raiding Rock Pigeon in mid-flight. She and our Canis Africanis would disappear for hours in the futile pursuit of reedbuck in our neighbour’s vlei. They would, after some hours, arrive home muddy, wild-eyed and guilty, panting from the chase. One day, failing with the buck, she, to my dismay, killed my tame guinea fowl, a charming and confiding bird that sat for part of the day on my shoulder, giving gratuitous advice on aspects of woodwork. At night, she roosted in the workshop.

Eventually, Candy became deaf, disorientated, and blind in one eye; she lagged behind on our regular evening walks. She had lost most of her appetite for canine pleasures.

Martin, our neighbour and veterinary practitioner, came in the cool of the evening to deliver her from toothache, rheumatism and anxiety. He is infinitely competent and compassionate. He found the vein in her foreleg and inserted the needle so skilfully that even I did not flinch.

Slowly she went, first to sleep, then death. Her ebbing life force turned to tears for me as does writing this. We are going to buy a tree today, that the nourishment in her body may benefit us and others with shade and beauty.

Maybe I will start saving for a similar privilege in sensible and civilised Holland one day. Lesotho tourism could well benefit from a mountain retreat, staffed by sympathetic and kindly people capable of administering suitable chemicals as well as a good dollop of Dutch courage. Such a benevolent service would surely be well-patronised. I could sure cope with a short time in the mountains to say goodbye to a few loved ones when I judge my time to have come.

In fact, I would like to design their brochure. See Maletsunyane and die!

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