Goodbye My Favourite Spy
This afternoon I said goodbye to Spy.
I stroked his soft furry Yoda ears and his long shotgun nose like I’ve done so many times before, but there was no bright-eyed loving response. No mad flailing of his whip tail, no sloppy dog kisses, no dopey adoring look on his face.
He was gone. I don’t think he even heard me.
Spy was a bit sick and sorry for himself yesterday. His sister had been the same way over the weekend and had bounced back to her usual happy self, so I wasn’t too worried about Spy. I had two sick kids and my own sick self to worry about yesterday.
Last night we had a rough time with the baby. He was burning up with a high fever, crying and clinging in a frightening floppy-limbed way. The local children’s paracetamol didn’t seem to alleviate anything, and I spent most of the night wiping him with a wet cloth and cuddling him. At 3.30am I gave him a bath and that reduced his temperature enough so it didn’t seem necessary to take him to the expensive 24-hour clinic downtown.
This morning when I went downstairs, Spy was looking as miserable as I felt. He dragged himself inside to sit beside me and I gave him a lovely pat, trying to smooth out the messy ridge of fur along his spine. I told him that if he was still sick this afternoon we’d take him to the vet. He just looked at me with love and thumped his dirty tail on the floor.
Then I went upstairs with a coffee, worked for a few hours, and took a nap to catch up on some of the sleep I missed last night. When I came downstairs for lunch, Spy was dead.
Vu said it must have been a stomach virus with a Vietnamese name that sounded like curry. He’d noticed Spy looking very ill just before lunch and loaded him onto the motorbike to take him to the vet but the vet was shut, and when they returned home, Spy was unresponsive.
I still can’t believe it could happen so fast. I stroked him and talked to him, but he was gone.
He wasn’t breathing and I couldn’t hear a heartbeat when I rested my ear on his side. I lifted him onto our sun lounge, covered him with an old rice sack and went inside to tell the kids.
We all said goodbye to Spy, who was still warm. We told him how he was our best Spy-boy, our favourite Spy-Spy, with the softest dog ears in the world. We stroked those ears and told him how much we loved him, and how he’d been such a good dog. We tried not to look at his lolling tongue and sunken eyes.
I said I hoped he found some chickens to chase where he was, and some other puppies to play with.
His sister, mother and grandmother hid in the garage, and Vu started digging a hole in the empty block of land next to our house.
Miss M and I went upstairs to my computer again to look for a nice photo of Spy. We could only find one that wasn’t blurred. Because Spy was never still.
Then we went out to buy Spy some flowers and incense, to help him through his first night alone. To let him know we are thinking of him.
As I lit the incense (and burned my thumb on the cheap Vietnamese lighter) Miss M and I talked about Spy’s short but wonderful dog life.
He had eight weeks with us, his eight brothers and sisters, mum and grandmother. He then had a rather miserable six weeks with the guy down the road, which left him sick and cowed, and much smaller than his sister.
When we discovered he wasn’t doing too well in his new home we took him back. We called the vet in for a home visit, organised his vaccinations and showered him with love, because he was quite skittish.
It took a few weeks, but Spy regained his confidence and became a loving wiggly puppy again. He gained weight, until he was bigger than his sister, who was the runt of the litter. We became a four-dog household.
Spy played a lot, tumbling and play-biting with the other dogs. He helped his sister Bo rip up our couch and chew the leg off Miss M’s favourite stuffed toy. He peed in the corner of the lounge room. He pulled rubbish out of the bin, chewed on the floor mats, chased the neighbour’s chickens, ate out of any bowls left unsupervised on the kids’ table, and rolled in many stinky things in the vacant land around our house.
One time we found chicken feathers all over the garage. There was no chicken but there were two suspiciously innocent puppy faces looking questioningly at us.
Spy got lots of pats and cuddles from us and from his dog-family.
He also got sick a lot. He injured his leg one night, probably rough-housing with his sister, and limped for about a week. One morning we came downstairs to find half his face ballooned out with some kind of infection. A shot from the vet cleared it up quite quickly, but it was clear he was accident-prone and/or a bit of a weakling.
Miss M named him Spy because he had a white dot on his forehead (I could never quite follow the logic of that, but there you go.) He also had a white tip on his tail, a marking Vu said was considered lucky by the Vietnamese. He had a dark ridge down his back, showing that somewhere in his gene pool there was a Phu Quoc dog ancestor.
It looked like he wasn’t going to grow as big as his mother. He had quite short fur, compared to his mum’s ridiculously thick long black coat, but he was soft and strokeable. Much softer than his sister, in temperament as well as fur.
Five months isn’t a very long life.
We wanted much more time with you, Spy. We miss you so much, and I can’t believe you’re gone.
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3 years ago