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Erwine


Please click on Erwine's picture to read his tribute






Fraggle (1993? - 6th March 2007)
 

Dear Fraggle only stayed with us for 8 months but she made as much impact on our lives as if she had been here all her life. She was kind of a failed foster although we knew before we even picked her up this one would be unlikely to go anywhere!

Emma at Furry Friends asked if we could "foster" this little girl. 14 years old, she had lived with the same family since she was a tiny puppy. Her people had had to take their grandchildren in and the kids had tormented the dog. Finally, after several months, she'd had enough and snapped at them. Hardly her fault but she had to go.

She arrived with us very confused and unhappy. For the first couple of days she refused to eat and just slept on the purple blanket which arrived with her. She hated the other dogs and would growl when they came anywhere near her, or even fly across the room to chase them away. Bless them though they never once retaliated.

Slowly she started to find her feet and accept the other dogs. She started to accept us as her new people and wagged her silly excuse for a tail when we came home. After a week it was apparent she was going to settle in ok so we officially adopted her.

Then came the question of what to do about her name. She arrived here with the name Pepsi but since that is the name of one of my Mum's dogs we knew that would have to change. We ummed and ahhed for some time over what to call her. We considered dozens of names but nothing seemed to quite fit. For the first couple of weeks she was just known by a series of nicknames - such as grotbags, grumpy knickers and scrag bag. Eventually we decided to call her Lexi as this was close to her old name in sound. But she never responded to either Lexi or her old name of Pepsi. Her nicknames continued and evolved. Scrag bag became Scraggle and then Fraggle. And then one day she reacted to Fraggle and so it stuck. It was the only name she had responded to so we figured that was the one she liked. It also really suits her since she had comedy eyebrows like Sprockett, the dog from Fraggle Rock.

Fraggle was hilarious! A typical terrier - grumpy, stroppy, determined, full of herself and her own importance! She was also great fun and reminded us a lot of Meggie Moo in the way she refused to accept that she was old and still played like a silly puppy. She was also heart meltingly cute and wonderfully affectionate. We called her Grunty Runty because if you scratched the right spot on her back she would grunt with pleasure. The presence of a slightly batty old dear in the house once again made our little family complete!

Then in February 2007 Fraggle became ill. She was being sick and having diarrhoea, which wasn't all that unusual for her really. It was something she was prone to. But I let her down and I failed to realise that this was something more. I was so so stupid because we had just lost Erwine who possibly had a virus too on top of his lymphoma. Looking back I can't believe I didn't twig that there might be a relationship or that Fraggle was as sick as she was. I took her to the vets on a Monday morning and she was kept in on a drip. She died there Tuesday night.

As I write this it has been 4 months since she died and today should have been her first gotcha day - one year since the day she came to live with us. We should be celebrating today but she is not here. Yeah she was old and she had a good long life but it wasn't her time. She was still so full of life and she wasn't ready to go yet. And I can't help but think that is all my fault. Four months on I can't talk about her, I can't look at her pictures, I just can't deal with her loss at all. When Moo died, it was her time. It was desperately sad but it was time for her to go. Fraggle's death was premature and just wrong.

I'm so sorry for letting you down my little panty-loon. You deserved so much more. I hope you have found Meggie Moo at the bridge and you are up there creating all sorts of old lady mischief together.


Geb (20th August 1983 - 21st September 1995)

Geb came to live with us when I was just six years old. Dad had taken a job with the local council's security department and they used working GSDs. He had spent some time with a colleagues dog, Brigadier, and now felt ready to take on his own. My brother and I got in the car after school one day and at first we didn't even notice this teeny bundle of fur on the seat next to my Mum. 

Geb was a monster of a puppy. He wrecked carpets, chewed numerous things (including a doorframe) and was always up to something. But he grew into the best dog ever. At night he went to work as a trained attack dog. By day he was the most loving family pet imaginable, laughing as kids pulled him around and pretended he was a motorbike, revving up his ears.

One story sums up perfectly how intelligent, gentle and conscientious Geb was. Heidi the cat came through the open back door with a bird in her mouth. My Dad jumped up to get the bird from her and of course she turned and ran back out the door. Geb followed and, as Heidi jumped for the fence, he caught her in his mouth and gently pulled her back down to the floor. This made Heidi drop the bird and run away. Geb then stood guard over the little bird until it flew away. That was Geb to a tee. The trained attack dog with the gentlest soul and most noble conscience you could imagine.

As Geb reached double figures his hips started to weaken and get arthritic and eventually he had to retire from duty. Then one evening when he was 12 he started being sick. As he was such a good dog he was very distressed at being sick in the house so my Dad left the back door open for him over night so he could go into the garden if he needed to. The next morning Geb was dead on the patio. It was pretty obvious that he had had a heart attack and died instantly. It was a terrible shock and Dad was devastated. But I was so grateful that Dad never had to make the decision to let Geb go, cos I know it would have devastated him to do so. Dad and I spent a slightly surreal day together dealing with Geb's body. Weirdly it will be one of  my fondest memories of Dad, that day.

When I'm worried about Dad and how death was for him, I think of Geb. I think of how he would have been whining at the door as he would have heard him coming long before he arrived. I think of how excited he would have been and how ecstatically he would have greeted Dad. I think of how he will be taking great care of him now. Nothing could bring me more comfort.

And when my time comes too, it'll be Geb I'll be thinking of seeing again.

Darling Geb, I have never met such a beautiful soul as you. I still miss you every day and feel so very honoured to have known you. Look after the old git for me big fella




Emma (1989 - 2001)


Emma was my Mum's dog really. She had always longed for a golden labrador and one year when we were on holiday in Somerset we chose a miniscule little round puppy from a litter born on a farm. It was instant love between her and Geb in particular and he became like a father to her.

Em was, quite simply, a blonde bimbo. She was the sweetest little dog but there wasn't a huge amount going on upstairs. In all her years she never even learned "sit". Born as a working dog, it's a good job she was whisked away to suburbia really as she was terrified of loud noises as well as a little slow on the uptake. She did have the classic labrador need to have things in her mouth though and I'll never forget how she'd see me walk through the door, run towards me wagging, then freeze, turn round and search frantically for whatever was her current toy. She'd grab it, relief would show all over her body and, only then was she able to handle the excitement of her visitors. One of her classic blonde moments was not noticing the difference between open and closed patio doors. She ran at them full pelt, smashing the door and earning herself a concussion and a cut nose.

Dear Em collapsed one night during her walk and passed away that night at the vets from a suspected stroke.

Heidi (1996 - October 16th 2001)

Heidi arrived in my life purely by chance. At the time I was running a wildlife rescue and living on site. My then partner and I had talked about getting a dog but agreed to let the right dog find us. With dozens of new people through the door every day and animals wandering around all over the place it needed to be the right dog. As we sometimes got involved with out of hours strays for the council I figured the right dog would find us when the time was right.

Then one day there was a knock on the door. A man had found a 4 month old puppy wandering the streets of the local council estate. I took her in and called the police and dog wardens desperately praying no one had reported her missing. She stayed with us while we waited to see if anyone claimed her and no-one ever did.

Heidi was my best friend and my soul mate. She looked after me through what was a deeply unhappy time in my life. We took walks together and watched the bats circling the tress by the river. I pulled her out and got soaked when she jumped in where it was too deep! She did a very good impression of a vicious guard dog when I was on my own and someone came to the door late. She even helped us catch some thugs who were killing ducks down on the pond. I'd never taught her any such command but when I pointed and told her to "Get him" she ran forward and grabbed the boy by the ankle. There was so much she just knew to do without ever being taught. It was as though we were connected on a whole other level. Funny but one of my fondest memories of Heidi was how she would wait for me when I went to the loo. No matter where she had been on site, she always seemed to know when I went to the loo and when I came out she would be sitting there wagging her tail in greeting.

On the night I left the only thing I wanted to take with me was Heidi. She came with me to my Mum's and stayed there with me for about 6 weeks while I took stock of my life. It was then I realised I couldn't keep her. I was going to have to go and get a job and I would be living in a rented flat, or more likely a bedsit and working all day. How could I take this intelligent active dog who was used to having free roam around a couple of acres and dozens of people around her all day and leave her alone in a flat? So I had to take her back there. And it was without doubt the hardest thing I ever did. I cried for weeks.

I stayed away after that. Aside from the situation with my ex being less than good, I felt seeing Heidi again was a lose lose situation. If she recognised me, she'd be upset. If she didn't I would. Soon after I heard that she was diagnosed with epilepsy. I can't help but wonder if the stress somehow triggered it. I saw her once more and she was obviously confused by seeing me. But if I had known or suspected for just one second that that would be the last time I would see her then I would have never stayed away. On October 16th 2001 my ex called me to say that Heidi had been fitting constantly for almost 24 hours and he was going to put her to sleep. I never got to say goodbye.

Heidi was cremated and her ashes scattered in the river where we stood watching bats together. Apart from the few which I keep in a locket round my neck so part of her is always with me.

There is a song which sums up perfectly how I feel about losing Heidi

Sorry, I never told you
All I wanted to say
And now it's too late to hold you
Cos you've gone away
So far away
Never had I imagined
Living without your smile
Feeling, knowing you hear me
It keeps me alive

And I know you're shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One Sweet Day

Sorry I never showed you
Assumed you'd always be there
I took you for granted
But I always cared
And I miss the love we shared

And I know you're shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One Sweet Day

Sleep well furry bum. 'Til we meet again.



Toby (26th January 1988 - 25th November 2002)

When I was 12 I decided I wanted a dog of my own. I begged, grovelled and pleaded with my parents but was getting nowhere. I went through in my head what other animals I could have instead and somehow came up with a guinea pig. So I said if I can't have a dog can I have a guinea pig instead. They said they'd have a chat and called me back a while later. They said they'd had a long chat and so on and decided I couldn't have a guinea pig. I was gutted. Then they said they'd decided I could have a dog. I was so happy I cried. Then they cried cos I was crying!

We talked at length about what type of dog to get and cos we stayed on a farm and they had collies there we decided on a collie. So next time we were at the farm we looked through the local paper and found some puppies on a farm. We went to see them and there were three boys left. A big chunky one, a little skinny shy one and a tri-colour. We chose the tri and the lady said she'd been calling him Toby. That was one of the names on my short list so it stuck.

Looking back a collie wasn't the best choice and I wasn't the best owner. Of course my parents said I'd get bored of walking him and I did. He ran a track round the garden - well he was a working stock collie and we took him home to a tiny garden in London. We made a lot of mistakes but there was no denying the bond between me and my Tobes. I have quite a bit of video of when we first got him and even after a few days he was following me round devotedly. He was my best friend and we loved each other so much. We had lovely walks together and he was incredibly clever - I taught him all sorts of things and he could learn a new command within half an hour. We had some funny times. We had a railway line at the end of the road and we had to walk along an alleyway along side it to get to the park. The first time a train went past he was scared so I made him go to a gap in the hedge and watch it so he knew what it was. After that he loved trains and would drag me down the alley to watch them go by! Coincidentally when he moved with Mum he was walked in another park which had a train line alongside and he'd chase the trains there too. When Mum moved and there was no train line he decided to start chasing planes instead.

I wrote this poem about him soon after we got him 

Warm soft body pressed close to mine
White chin rests on my chest
A handsome dog, a companion so fine
His brown eyes put my heart at rest.
Comfort is in those loving eyes
That gaze up with devotion so rare
Comfort is in those soft carefree sighs
And his greeting that shows me he cares.
He's there through hardship with a wag of his tail
And a lick in my times of need
He's there with a faithfulness that will never fail
Dear Toby, a fine friend indeed.

Toby stayed at home with my Dad when I went off to Uni and then went to live with Mum when Dad got ill. He loved it there with his two girlfriends who he took great care of. Even when months went past without me seeing him he always greeted me in a special way which showed that he still knew I was his Mummy.
Toby started to slow down as he reached double figures. He had a couple of funny turns where his back legs went on him but the vet never found a real cause. In September we took him to the Battersea reunion as normal - usually he loved this day and made sure to say Hello to every other dog he saw, particularly the GSD's as if checking if they were his old friend Geb. This last year though he clearly wasn't enjoying himself and we went home early.
Then came the fireworks and Toby was, as usual, utterly terrified of all the bangs. Soon after his back legs played up again and this time the vet diagnosed a stroke. Over the next week or so his coordination and mobility got gradually worse. Mum called me on the 25th to say she felt the time had come. I went over there that evening and Toby couldn't even get up to greet me at the door. He was laid on the sofa and he could just lift his head to acknowledge me. He looked me right in the eye and I could see he had had enough and it was time for him to go. Mum gave me some time alone with him during which I was able to say everything I wanted to him - how much growing up with him had meant, how much I loved him, all the messages to pass on to all the other babies at The Bridge. He slipped away at the vets with me, my Mum and Step Dad all holding him and telling him we loved him and to go and see Geb.

Tobes was just an all round fabulous dog. Incredibly intelligent, fun, gentle, loving, friendly, great with all dogs and people - he just didn't have a bad bone in his body.

I hope you're having fun up there with Geb darling xx



Meg


Please click on Meg's picture to read her tribute

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