|Uzz at about 2 years old|
We got him in August 1999, coincidentally at more or less the same time I first started to use the internet. He was a miniature Jack Russell/Fox Terrier cross and was just 8 weeks old. We called him Rusty, but that quickly became Uzz.
I'd been made redundant, so I was at home, and it was August and freezing (still winter, here). So I carried him around with me, tucked into my jacket, which could be tightened at the waist with a tie. I used to pull the string tight, and he slept supported by my jacket against my warm tummy.
I adored him and he adored me. When I came home, he'd dance around and whimper with excitement. Later, he got deaf, so the loud welcoming barks I used to get at the gate whenever I came home stopped. But still, even old and half-blind, he would know I was home within a minute or two from my scent, I suppose, and he would leap off the sofa to welcome me.
In the last year or so, he'd become senile. He was distressed even when I was home, and often howled, in a deep tenor howl when I wasn't. He had kidney disease. One keeps on postponing the inevitable, but the final straw was when he wee'd on the floor (his weeing had got more and more copious, a clear sign of kidney disease) and there was a drop of blood in it.
On Thursday we took our little champion down to the vet to be killed. At the vet he barked several times, with the sharp imperious bark he used to use when he needed help: "come tuck me in!"; "open the door!"; "I'm stuck, help me!" (when he fell behind the sofa--he liked to lie on its arm in the afternoon sun). But this time we weren't going to help him, the "get me out of here!" bark wasn't going to help.
He was so distressed the vet gave him a sedative before the long green injection, and we caressed and stroked him then and then when he died and then after he was dead. I wept and when he was gone and we were alone, I sobbed, as I haven't done since my father died.
I had him for 16 years, a quarter of my life. He was my friend, loyal and faithful and forgiving. He forgave me my grumpiness, he helped lift my depressions, he didn't mind that I was old and fat and cynical. He loved me unreservedly and unconditionally. Would that my human friends were like that. Would that I was like that. I try so hard to be a decent loving person, and in the end it's a dog who shows me how.
Salve atque vale, mi amice. I can't tell you how much I miss you.