When I was nine my sister wanted a dog. She had set her heart on a border collie dog called Shep. After a long time of wheedling and pleading my parents started asking around if anyone knew someone who had a collie.
One evening we were all sitting around the table, having just finished a late dinner and our neighbour knocked on the door. He was holding a tiny puppy in his arms and asked if we wanted her. Looking at her there was no way any of us were going to say no.
She wasn’t the Shep my sister had been dreaming of, she was a Border collie/cocker spaniel cross and therefor rather short, and my sister refused to call a girl Shep, so over the course of the evening she settled on Rachel.
She was an incredibly massive and important part of our lives as a family for the next ten years, I love our cats all dearly but they do tend to exist on a different level to the way Rachel did. We’d walk her as a family, we’d forget to walk her as a family, she was a godsend to my Grandparents, particularly my grandfather who used to take her for long walks and let her in the kitchen (Which was normally not allowed).
I used to take her for walks on the back road up Blackstairs quite a lot, up until I moved to England. After I moved I didn’t go for walks as much and when I came back home I was shocked everytime by how much older she looked. It was one of those things that doesn’t hit you quite as much until you don’t see someone for three months. Ten is quite old for a dog like her.
On Tuesday the 8th I got a phone call from my mother, she said that Rachel had gotten sudden kidney failure and was at the vets. There was a possibility they could get her kidneys working again but if not they might have to put her down.
I spent the evening crying on my girlfriend’s shoulder.
On Thursday I got an email from mam, they’d brought Rachel home from the vet, but she was dying, the vet was coming to our house that evening to give her an injection, and if me and my brother wanted to call, to say something, anything to her now was the time.
I rang and sat there crying on the phone to her.
After that I spoke to my sister, we spent five minutes on either side of the phone hardly saying a word and trying not to cry because what can you honestly say at times like that?
On the 10th on January 2013 our dog Rachel died.
If there are two things I regret it was these, firstly that I was too sick over Christmas to go on a proper walk with her. And secondly that I couldn’t be there, until I moved I had always been there when one of our pets died and when it was Rachel I was stuck, far away from her unable to get home and to be there.
But I’ll always be glad of the almost ten years she had with us. Always.