March 2018
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Not long after we got married, Mrs. M decided we should have a dog. She didn’t have to nag me very hard because I always had dogs around the house when I was growing up, and before long, we were off to a breeders to look at a litter of Cocker Spaniel pups. They only had one still available, a black pup, bigger than all of the others. We adored him, and made arrangements to pick him up as soon as he was able to face the world.

Eddie was a lovely pup. There were times when he would yelp all night, and do unmentionable things to the kitchen, but he had a real zest for life. We’d take him to the neighbouring fields and he would bomb around as fast as his little legs could carry him, squeaking in excitement as he skittered around the fields. Sometimes, he might even do a spot of retrieving. More often than not, Mrs. M would have to retrieve him from somebody else’s garden. But he was a lovely pup, he was the star pup in his puppy class and although he used to pull on his lead when he was being walked, we put that down to youthful exuberance.

Of course, a few months after Eddie joined us, Mrs. M fell pregnant, and so the twice-daily walks with Eddie got to be more of a struggle. She kept it up as far as she could though, walking ever more slowly around the fields, Eddie loyally trotting at her side.

And then Lentil joined us, and Eddie loved him. He’s never displayed any jealousy towards Lentil, never lost his temper with him, never picked up any of his toys.

But as Eddie got older, he got a bit more moody. He started to limp. We took him to the vets, he underwent lots of x-rays, and the gist of it was that he could have an op, but it probably wouldn’t make him any better, and either way, we should walk him less. Yes, a spaniel, and we should walk him less… And he started to become a bit more aggressive.He would snap at Mrs. M when they were sitting on the sofa together. Mealtimes became a complete struggle – if you went near him while he was eating in the kitchen, he’d growl at you in no uncertain terms. And then he nipped one of our friends on the nose, for no reason at all.

We had a tearful night or two and realised that he had to go. We rang the breeder, who had assured us that she would take him back if we ever couldn’t cope with him, and she said that she wouldn’t be able to rehome him, that we shouldn’t have had him castrated, and she would just have him put down. So we had another tearful night or two, and resolved to try and work through it together as a family.

We had a coach spend some days with us. We worked on drills with his walking. We clamped down on his freedoms around the house, we made sure he knew who was in charge of the food. We even got him to stop barking whenever he saw a motorbike. For a while.

But there was nothing we could do about the sudden temper that he occasionally displayed. It was hardwired, and there was no training that could overcome it. Over the 18 months since he nipped our friend, he’s snapped on a few occasions, although nothing particularly serious. Until Friday afternoon.

Mrs.M called me, sobbing hysterically to tell me that she had been bitten by Eddie and that I should come home. I came home, made her a cup of tea, and called the vets. We both knew that it was what we had to do.

And then on Saturday, she took him for one long walk with his best friend around their favourite fields. After lunch, I took him for one last walk with me, and we drove to the vets, and hugged him as he fell asleep for one last time.

I honestly don’t think we had any choice. Deep down, I felt that he had been living on borrowed time for the past 18 months, and maybe it was even irresponsible of us to give him the chances that we did. But we loved him, and for 99% of the time he was a fantastic dog – but the fact that he could snap without warning meant that we couldn’t trust him, and it wasn’t safe any more for him to share a house with an increasingly mobile 2 year old.

We’ve still got our memories, we’ve got so many lovely memories, and believe me, we’ve spent a lot of time over these past few days looking at our photos. And Lentil loved Eddie too, he told us this evening as we were eating our tea that Eddie loved trifle, and he probably did. We’re missing him terribly, but we’re sure that somewhere he’s scampering around a huge field full of lame rabbits and squirrels with vertigo, because we think that’s what dog heaven probably is.

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