RIP Keeks

It is fair to say that nearly 15 years ago was not impressed by the family’s decision to get a dog. I knew it would end in being another stress on my mum and dad. I hoped my brothers and sister were being sincere about their interest and would help out, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t.

It turned out Keeks (not her real name) was a bit special. In the head. She was over protective. Over possessive. Miserable to most. Cantankerous to many. Wouldn’t play fetch. Adept at stealing the ball and never returning it. Probably autistic. The list goes on.

Yet everyone loved her. Even me, eventually. She won me over with her grudging respect for me – most of the time – and in that year I spent at home after university she was my company most days. I taught her new tricks, and stupid useless things like conditioning her to get excited at the Star Trek theme. I would sing it every time her beloved Mamma came home. She went crazy then if you did it out of context. It was a lovely and amusing bond between us.

Sadly, she is no more. It had been obvious for some years that she had arthritis and was limping badly. It must have been painful to live with for years. She couldn’t get up stairs any more (her escapology used to drive me crazy in the mornings) and it was sad to see. Every year I have wondered if this will be her last, but this year, post Christmas, I really did think it would be. I stroked her, which is something I never did as a rule, and cried. I knew it would be for the last time.

Last week she started bleeding – again – and this time the vets said it was very serious and will cause her a severely painful death. Mum had booked a trip to the vets the day before yesterday and when the phone rang I knew it would be bad news. They said it is cruel to ignore her suffering. Mum took her home to say goodbye to everyone – with Covid’s curfew going out the window – and it was severely distressing. I saw her over WhatsApp and said my goodbyes, but she wasn’t paying much attention. It was horrible. But the pictures and videos flowed, she had a good send off.

Yesterday was the end. I knew I would be sad, but wasn’t expecting it to be that sad. It was hard to process, and doubly so when the stupid work phone kept ringing. J cried for the first time I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know what to say or do. I just knew we would never see her again, and J absolutely loved Keeks, probably more than I did. He was mortified, and I had to stop him from wanting to drive hundreds of miles yesterday…

But I shouldn’t be surprised really. She’s been a part of our lives for nearly 15 years. That’s a whole lot of memories. A horrible reminder of time going by in the blink of an eye. It seems like yesterday but she really did only used to be tiny and would bounce around chewing people’s toes and getting her head stuck in the garden gate, necessitating a call to the fire brigade. On Boxing Day…

I feel most of all for my mum and dad. The dog has been an ever present for years now, in the revolving cast of characters that makes up a family home. She’s always been there, and you act like she always will be. Then suddenly she isn’t. They are both in terrible grief and I wish I knew what to say.

So long Keeks. It was lovely to have known you and let you win me over. Our family has a huge hole that will never be filled.

COVID 19 – One Month On

After my last post, which I have just re-read, I wondered how we might survive.

Of course, I knew we would, somehow. I am lucky. I am not poor (though not rich either) and am well accustomed to spending long times on my own or with the other half. In some respects, sitting now in the sun beaming through the patio glass, enjoying its warming rays, you might even be forgiven for for wondering what all the fuss is about?

But, as I said, I am lucky. I have food in the cupboard and the freezer. I have money if I need to get more. Sure, I’ll have to risk it, and spend inordinate amounts of time queuing to get into supermarkets, and then struggle to pick anything because I can’t make a decision without J… but if it had to be done I would do it.

There are those who aren’t so fortunate. Many have died, more than should have, and it’s clear that there are big questions to answer about the government’s strategy (though apparently everyone still wants to vote Tory). There have been job losses, and there has been a crash in the economy. I feel so desperately sorry for the self-employed cleaners, hairdressers, coffee shop owners, pub landlords and so on… the personal service economy was eliminated at a stroke, and no one is bringing their money back. Their businesses may never return, especially if they have clients who go bust through lack of income. The true depth of economical damage is still to be appreciated.

But I am lucky. Or maybe not lucky, just that I don’t spend all my money. I could do so. If I wanted to I could shop more expensively. I could furnish my house lavishly. I could have hobbies with high price tags. I could learn to drive and have a car of my own. I could travel extensively. I do none of those things, making my life less interesting, but meaning I have savings. I sacrifice myself, out of a fear for the planet, and a fear for my future. I live a tedious existence, feeling anxious over Netflix subscription costs and a TV licence. It should be one or the other, right?

But such is the limit of my guilt in normal times. Even expensive tastes, such as a latte and a chocolate square from Costa had to be jettisoned once that little combo crossed the £5 mark. Now I get a standard coffee and a cookie from McDonald’s at half the price. And even that fills me with shame about the unsustainability of it all.

To only worry about these things shows my privilege. I am comfortable, and I can eat. I am taking limited risks, and therefore hopefully won’t get sick. My business has taken an 80% nosedive in turnover, but I am not worrying too much. I hope that what I do is resilient enough that we will still be in demand whenever this is over. I can’t last forever, but my frugality and spending anxieties mean we could ride out two years and keep paying ourselves our normal modest income.

So I am lucky. I would like to be enjoying the current weather somewhere nicer than my grotty back patio. But hearing motorbikes scream along the A road, its rider clearly not interested in the rules, unbothered by the sacrifice the rest of us are making so that they may continue to be healthy does grate a little…

Then I sit here and think… well what would I be doing instead? It’s a good question that for now I don’t have to worry about answering…