Delius blue

The most beautifulest, magicalest little creature I have ever known.

 

Delius Blue, miracle dog, would have been sixteen years old today. I really thought he would make it to this grand old age, but it was not to be.

Back to the start.

I was depressed, living alone, and working from home. I would rarely go out for exercise and was growing tired of wallowing.

I wanted a dog.

My previous rescue would jump out of car windows and attack people of colour and pensioners. So this time I’d decided on a puppy. I was determined to have a blue dog and persuaded my parents to drive me to Great Yarmouth to see a litter of whippet X Italian greyhound puppies that were ready for homing.

A chunky little blue dog was brought out for me, and I thought him very sweet. The lady of the house then mentioned that she had some that were more like I.G’s, and brought out a little one.

He had white socks on his feet, the very tip of his tail was white, and he had a lightening flash of white around his neck.

He wasn’t pure blue, but he came over to me and looked up with bright blue eyes and showed much more interest than the chunky blue fellow. He was insistent on getting my attention. He climbed into my lap and would not leave. And that is how I went home with a different dog than the one I had come to view, because he chose me.

His eyes remained blue for long after they should have turned brown, so long in fact that I became sure they might always stay blue, but in time they turned to big brown, human like soulful eyes.

We took puppy classes together and he learned to walk on a loose lead. He didn’t bark until he was about 18 months old, and it soon became clear that while his body was dog, his soul was cat.

 

He would sit next to me on the sofa, or more usually, at the other end of it. He never reacted to the doorbell, and barely raised an eyebrow at guests unless it was someone he liked. He rarely sought cuddles and tolerated only the occasional show of affection. If anyone stroked him, he would get up and go and sit somewhere else.

He was cool and polite; his favourite chair fully under his authority and whilst he would tolerate a child or pensioner perched on the arm of his chair, he reserved the right to ask you to leave, by staring you dead in the eye and give a short half bark-whine, threatening a howl.

When he was six years old, he ran at full speed down the garden and crashed into a newly installed rotary washing line and let out a yelp, the likes of which terrified my then partner. He lay paralysed on the floor, a single tear falling from his eye.

I slid him onto a wooden board and walked to the vets with him. They arranged for him to seen by the Queen Elizabeth small animal hospital and we went there in a cab first thing in the morning.

The MRI scan revealed a snapped vertebrae in his neck. He had an operation the next day and we were told that once the swelling on his spinal cord went down, we would have a much better idea of how much paralysis would be permenent.

I was told not to visit due to the risk of him getting excited and moving around too much, so it was month before I could see him. When eventually we visited, he was in a neck brace, half his back shaved with a long central scar. Over the following two weeks, his nurse sent me videos of him in the hydrotherapy pool before showing me how to do his massages and physiotherapy myself so he could come home.

He had some remaining paralysis along his left side and would do a little wiggle-struggle to get himself onto his feet, but he was not allowed to walk unsupervised. We would practice with him in a harness with a strap attached so that I could take his weight, and each step I would have to flatten his curled paw to the ground.

I carried him everywhere. He had a crate in the kitchen and my work room and a playpen in the living room. We developed a language, I had to pay attention, one squeak for ‘I want a drink’, one for ‘I want to go to the loo’. I was a carer, and he was completely dependent on me.

Oftentimes he’d stay in the kitchen sunbathing in the square on the floor where the light came in, while I worked in the front room.

The first time we went for a real walk was nothing short of miraculous. The usual horsey high step of a sight hound now had an additional side kick on his front leg. People on the street would comment on his funny walk, say it was cute. Sometimes they would laugh like it was funny he was disabled, which would annoy me.

As he got older, he would always follow me around and want to be in the same room as me. When we went out to visit family, he’d get bored and whinge when he wanted to go home.

During the lockdowns of 2020, we would go out walking at sunrise. Marathon walks through the woods before the world woke up, in a beautiful quiet we’d never had before.

Knowing that he was in his latter years as average life expectancy is 12-15, I really appreciated our time together and paid extra attention to his needs. He became increasingly pampered and started sleeping in my bedroom instead of the kitchen.

 

Earlier this year he caught a virus that weakened his heart and accelerated his decline.

Our walks got shorter, his appetite was reduced, and he slept long under his pile of blankets.

One day after going upstairs he fainted. I sat on the floor cradling him in tears saying goodbye because I thought he was about to drop dead.

 

In his last couple of weeks his faints became almost daily, and he stopped attempting to go upstairs. I took him to the vet to ask if it was time. The vet assured me he wasn’t in pain or distressed and that I should try and encourage him to eat.

I made him a medium steak and hand fed him which he seemed to enjoy. But the next day he barely lifted his head. After a trip to the garden to go do dog things he fainted again. This time he looked at me in such a way I knew it was the end and he’d had enough.

 

I called the vet and booked him in for euthanasia, a decision I’d long been dreading, but I knew I did not want to hang on too long and cause him unnecessary suffering.

I called my Bestie who had a special bond with Delius as we had all lived together for a number of years. He came over after work to say goodbye. We all sat together, chatted, and had a takeaway. He told me I’d made the right decision.

I sat with Delius until three in the morning, sitting on the kitchen floor was taking its toll on my middle-aged joints, and went up to bed for a couple of hours.

I came downstairs at five o clock and Delius was curled up by his bed. I peered at him and went over, he was cold, and he was gone. In the absence of animation, it’s an unusual sensation, the flesh remains in front of you, but the essence is most definitely departed.

 

I sat on the floor and cried, my boy, my baby. My dear friend, mascot, and familiar had moved on from this earthy plane. Peacefully in his sleep, a small mercy, and a blessing. I took comfort that he hadn’t suffered the indignity of a final vet visit, the shaved leg, the lethal injection in a strange white room.

I sat with him a while, then in a strange impulse I took his big blue chair to the dump. I put some small keepsakes away in a box, then collected his bowls and toys and blankets, bagged them up, and took them to the charity shop.

When I got back, I wrapped him in a blanket like he was sleeping and went to the vets. The nurse took him from me, and then returned with only his blanket.How strange it is to settle a bill in a room full of pitying faces. To cry in public whilst filling out forms. And to then go home, alone for the first time in many years.

 

Sometimes as I close the door to go out, I turn to say, “I won’t be long” to an empty room.

When I’m out I think, ‘I have to get back for the dog’, but I don’t.

 

People ask, ‘will you get another dog?’ like it’s replacing a kettle. It will be years before I get another dog. He was a one off, a gift from the gods, perfectly matched in temperament, loving but not affectionate. Loyal but not clingy.

 

I never felt that I owned him, that he was mine, but that we were companions, for a time.

He made me better; he taught me how to live again.

The most beautifulest, magicalest little creature I have ever known.

 

Thank you for choosing me, my small blue thing.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ennis Welbourne