It’s been a bad year for old dogs.
I’ve had several friends say goodbye to theirs this year.
I get sad when dogs die, and I recently had to say goodbye to my mate Hank Williams. It was especially sad because I was the one to sign his death warrant.
Hank was just too “Hankalicious” for this world.
It turns out Hank had many friends of the two-legged kind, but not so much the four-legged, especially cats.
Jagger the resident cat at my house has never been happier – she always gets happy when someone in the house dies. The demise of my cats Ginger Rogers and Patsy Stone over the past 12 months made her borderline euphoric.
She is no longer getting chased up the nearest fence post and can now strut about the lounge with her tail in the air without worrying that Hank, destroyer of worlds, will lunge at her from inside his crate next to the log fire.
Hank is not in the freezer awaiting burial. Well, he’s not in the freezer at my house – my freezer is full. Of who? I won’t go into that right now.
Hank was a great dog. It took him a while to get there, but I’ll never find a better trail dog. He loved nothing better than towing the mountain bike at full speed – like an electric bike, but more erratic and slobbery.
There was just that one time he saw a couple of plovers out of the corner of his eye, took a sudden left-hand turn and I ended up hitting the pavement at full speed (helmets are good!).
I forgave him and learnt to see the chaseable creatures before he did.
He came to me as a classic pound mutt – full of worms and mites, but cute as hell.
I thought, “gosh he looks pretty chill” (ha, ha) and I took him home and hurricane Hank blossomed.
Hank was a blood donor, a guinea pig for training and research, and even in death he was essentially donated to science to help vets learn. That felt like a strange thing to do, but it was OK, just something else to add to the long list of things that made Hank special and gave his life meaning. Pretty good for a mutt that should never have existed.
Generations of terrible breeding gave Hank his strength, speed, agility and personality, but it also, sadly, gave him an aggressive streak which couldn’t be predicted or mitigated. This streak was what bought about his demise.
A few things to take from this column – I miss Hank, sometimes the hardest thing to do is the best thing to do, and fix your animals!