Rufus van Dalen
Rufus and I used to walk for hours in the countryside in Surrey, Northamptonshire, Brittany and latterly the South West of France. When the dark fog of depression hounded me, Rufus and I would go for even longer walks and the clouds of despair would soon lift. How could I be sad watching Rufus roll in the grass or disappear into a field of buttercups and suddenly see his head appear, a huge grin on his face? Walking became my therapy and wherever I went, Rufus went too. If it hadn't been for Rufus, I simply wouldn't be here. In my darlest days, I just couldn't bear the prospect of leaving my dog behind.
In the last year, Rufus' cancer gradually reduced his quality of life to the point that he no longer smiled or looked happy. He remained patient with his younger brothers, particularly the puppy who would playfully crawl all over him and then bite his ears hoping for a reaction. Watching Rufus wither away broke my heart. In the last few days, he could barely get up and didn't even give me a second glance when I would leave the house with his brothers on my daily walk. I could sense Rufus was separating himself from me, once so close that he would sleep in my bed, his head snuggled into my back. Now he showed disinterest to everyone and everything.
Today has been an agonising flood of tears, so many that I can barely stand up. As he drew his last breath, I held Rufus in my arms, kissing his head and telling him how much I loved him and what a perfect dog he had been all of his life. I shall miss you, my darling. What a hole has been left in our lives and in our hearts. Sweet Rufus, my 'Babda', my saviour, I know you're gambolling amongst the buttercups now.
Photo copyright Ian C.
Photo copyright SvD.