Ken Dodd's Dad's Dog Is Dead
Monday 18 March 2002

And so is mine. Or she soon will be. Sophie; Airedale Terrier; familiar tan-and-black curly coat; inquisitive terrier face: family pet since my thirteenth year.

Crazy dog, loved to eat flies, bumble bees, and cigarette butts. One memorable night she ate an eighth of hash and a month's-worth of contraceptive pills with no ill-effects. Another night drank my sister's antibiotic medicine and could not balance on her feet for hours afterwards: stood there swaying; then would collapse to left or right: hilarious; frightening, sad.

She had the constitution of an ox, and the loudest bark in Chislehurst. One time she escaped, met her mother terrier, who was being walked, and lunged straight for her, teeth bared. Yeah, you could say I identified with Sophie; hungry, messy, fucked-up, mother-hating little beast that she was. And now she's dead. Or soon will be.

Liver failure, apparently; dying from the inside out, same as grandpa last summer. She's vomiting, dehydrated, canŐt stand up. She's off to the vet's this afternoon andÉ that'll be it.

I cried: I didn't want to tell the boyfriend; he's always hated her, and I was scared he might laugh. It's only a dog. Just a pet. Doesn't feel like that though, does it.

Yourself? You ever had a pet that was so huggable, so fallible, so human in its ways that when it died you sobbed your eyes out? I feel silly with this: self-indulgent in grief, akin to the faux-grief that I felt when Princess Diana died, when I almost enjoyed the feel of silvery tears sparkling on my cheeks. Grief-lite, I suffered then: and this, too, I must concede, is grief-lite. How will it be when Mum passes away, after all these years of love and hate? Can't even begin to conceive of Dad dying; eyes fog up, and I drag mind to sunnier things.

Those of you who've suffered a real bereavement will be laughing at my pet-related bereavement-lite outpourings: and so you should be. But who hasn't bit their lip as the vet slides the needle in for the last time?


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