Our faithful black Labrador, who was an old lady when I was just a boy, had six pups and despite the grey on her muzzle, produced enough milk for them all. She would take her bowl to the sink when thirsty, tinned-meat to the can-opener when hungry. When tired, she would sprawl out on a rug before the coal fire, on occasion, licking her master’s feet before falling asleep.
Sometimes, I would rest my head upon her chest, listening to her breathing. In her dreams she would sometimes yelp softly and I would soothe her nightmares away by stroking her sleek black coat.
In our garden, during the pleasant sunshine of a warm afternoon, we used to play together. Throwing a tennis ball that she would chase then fetch back and drop in my waiting hands for me to throw again. This was by far, her favourite game.
Some considered that she ran out in front of the School Teacher’s speeding car deliberately. “Because of her age,” they said, and “her inability to cope with the pups, only just turned two weeks old,” — that my mother reared, against all predictions.
I never accepted this nonsense. At the time, such a thing never crossed my mind as I looked at her, sprawled across the roadside verge. Her eyes were open, but through my tears I could see they were sightless. I also saw the muddy tyre-print across her unmoving ribs and how her legs were twisted at an unnatural angle. I could not help my crying, but I felt no shame: none at all.
The sad regret I saw in the School Teacher’s red-rimmed eyes did nothing to ease my pain. If anything, her sorrow made me feel even worse. I felt guilty because I wanted to hate her. Perhaps I did hate her! I can barely remember now. With the passage of time the pain and the hate, if indeed there was any hate, has faded.
Whenever I pass our old house, where Moss is buried in the garden in which she played, I recall our times together and give her good thoughts. For good thoughts are all that I have for our faithful black Labrador, who was an old lady; when I was just a boy.
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