Friday, 25 May 2012


I had to have my dog put down yesterday. It's not the first time I've faced this. I've loved three dogs in my life before but there was something special about Batty. I fear I'll carry the sadness at his loss for a very long time.

He was born on 19th August 2003 and came to us in January 2004. I wasn't sure about having him at the time. We'd lost our previous family dog Spider, a sassi white staffordshire bull terrier, three months earlier and it just seemed disrespectful to replace her so soon.

 She was very much my husband's dog. I loved her of course but we never got really close. She loved him and I was a poor substitute.

When she died there was an emptiness in the house. The kids missed her. My husband  missed his evening's walk with her and the way she would faithfully wait, untethered, as he popped into the shop; the way she would pine for him whenever he left the house without her.

 The hole she left in our family motivated my other half to want another dog as soon as possible and when he saw a white boxer for sale in the local paper, he was determined to check him out and an hour later a gawky, clumsy, bouncy five month old whirlwind dragged my other half into the house and headed straight for me.

He stood on his hind legs with his front legs hugged around me and then he laid his head on my shoulder. I was suckered.

There were times when that special Batty hug was a comfort like no other living animal could give. My husband never bonded with him quite and in truth, he came too soon after the loss of Spider the Staffy which is why my other half couldn't love him quite the same but I adored him immediately. 

 Batty came to us with the name Bruno. I suppose because he was a boxer but he was more of a lover than a fighter and it didn't really suit him. During a fun mock boxing match with my other half, he remarked how Bruno fought like a Battyboy and the name stuck. He was certainly in touch with his feminine side. We still used Bruno when he was in trouble or when he needed the authoritarian voice. 

 Batty was just a huge mass of energy and he did everything with gusto. My other half had been used to walking Spider who would toddle along at his side off the lead. When Batty was first unleashed, my other half chased him for hours before he could get him back. 

 Batty was also sociable to other dogs but he irritated the life out of some by wanting to play and tease until they'd turn on him and then he'd gallop off like a horse.  There was a pond on the common where he walked. One day he hurtled towards it. We watched in horror as he sank in the middle but suddenly Batty bounced out of the water like he'd landed on a coiled spring and then took off with us chasing him again . I trained him to come back by taking cocktail sausages on the walk and rewarding him each time he returned. 

 His last owners wanted rid of him because he was destructive and had eaten through a settee. He was spoiled rotten there and they couldn't cope with him because he thought he owned the house. My other half has always been great with dogs because he treats them like dogs, not children, with respect, and lets them know who's boss and where the boundaries lie. 

 He chased Batty out of the house in anger one morning when we got up and found he had literally chewed the plaster off the kitchen wall down to the brick. Batty hid behind a bush in the garden and wouldn't come out for anyone but me and then I got one of those cuddles again. Perhaps he needed them too. 

 When we took him to the vet's for his jabs, we were told that as a white boxer he had a very short life span and would probably not live longer than 8 to 10 years. He was three and in his prime when we were approached about breeding him with a friend's female boxer. 

 We'd been told that if he mated he would calm down and it seemed a great idea to have one of his puppies from the litter. He was such a lovely dog that I wanted to be sure that his genes would continue and if we couldn't have him for long, then at least we'd have part of him for a bit longer.

 Toad was born at the end of August 2006 and came to us at six weeks old. Batty took him under his wing immediately and they became very close. Batty didn't have to prove he was top dog, Toad was happy to follow his lead.

They became inseparable. They slept together, walked together, ate together, drank together. When Batty stayed over at another Boxer bitch's house to mate, Toad was inconsolable. I wondered then if anything ever happened to Batty how Toad would cope. That night he paced and panted constantly and sat facing the door - waiting. He went loopy when Batty came home the next day.

The second litter of puppies Batty fathered were like mini clones of him and Toad. If only I could have kept them both too but at least I have their photo if I'll never know how they get on with their new owners and Toad and Batty were quite enough of a handful - except when they slept.

Was Batty ill then? It was only last year. We have no idea when he got prostate cancer. Dogs never complain and he never showed us he had a problem until last week when he suddenly stopped eating.

We wondered what the problem was but at first we didn't take it too seriously. He'd gone off his food before but usually when we changed brand of dog food. He was drinking water but when he still refused food the next day, and turned away from his favourite treats like bacon, sausages and cake, we began to worry a lot.

Our village vet is only open three days a week so Batty had been off his food for four days before we could get him in.  He went downhill rapidly. We had one sleepless night  wondering if he'd make it. The news when it came was the worst. The vet wanted to put him down there and then but my other half wanted to bring him home one last time so we could all say our final goodbye.

The last two days of his life were full of pain. He slept, drank water and puked continually when he didn't sleep. Toad paced the house for two nights whimpering as Batty lay there almost lifeless. It was pitiful. I wished he'd been put out of misery rather than coming home to say goodbye. That was for our benefit and not his and we shouldn't have put through that extra day. My last memory of him is the smile he gave me as I helped my other half lift  him into the car for the last visit to the vet.

 He didn't move as he lay on the back seat but seemed focussed on the scenery as  it flashed past the window as the car moved. He was a bit of a dreamer. There were  many times on holiday and in walks in the countryside when he would just sit and gaze out as if he was taking in the view.

His last breath was a sigh of relief . It was a comfort to hear. His time  had come and he was ready to go. Whether he and Toad had The Big Conversation in their own way during those last two nights can't be known but Toad seems to have accepted that Batty, his dad, is never coming back. He hasn't fretted, paced or whined at all but he is a much quieter and calmer dog now that Batty has gone.

Perhaps he's finally grown up. I'm dreading the thought that his time might be as short as Batty's  and now I know why boxer dogs are so energetic. They have so much life to cram into such a brief time on earth.

 Batty may have been here for just less than nine years but he will live with me and in my heart for lifetime and I am comforted to know that he gave us Toad who has his same gentle soul. He has lived in his dad's shadow since coming to our house and now is his time. I want to make sure that the years he has left will be the best of his life.


  1. Aww that is a wonderful tribute to sweet Batty, you were both so very lucky to have found each other! RIP Batty boy xx

  2. What a lovely Tribute Patsy. All of us that have lost a special friend understand the void you are dealing with. I too have loved a very special dog very much like your Batty. I guess the best lesson we learn for all of this pain and loss is live life to the fullest because tomorrow doesn't always come. Hugs - Ann

  3. Thankyou. I forgot, until my youngest daughter reminded me, that the first thing Batty did was pee on her when he dragged my other half into the house, then he cuddled me and then he peed on her again.

    He was also like a cartoon dog at times such as the pond incident. At home if he tried to dash out of the living room too quickly he'd end up running on the spot because his claws couldn't get a grip on the laminate.

    The neighbours christened him Cartoon Dog after watching his antics in the garden from their upstairs window. He certainly was a comic character in any event.

  4. I lost my best pal in November 2006, poppydog I found her outside in the snow clambering about, this was January 1991, she was only a few weeks old,and must have been a christmas present that someone did not want,she brought joy to my life for nearly sixteen years,she was as fit as a lop until three weeks before she died, You have my sympathy Pat but it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

  5. I always remember the night skippy died. 32yers ago and I have never felt I could have another dog. At the time I likened his loss to that of losing a child. (I was childless) Now 32 years on I remember the loss as close to having a stillborn daughter, and more painful then when my father left( no offence intended)It gets better but you always remember.

  6. dear nurse pat, my sympathies for your loss.i also have some four legged freinds i mourn.still batty is in canine heaven.he will in all likelyhood greet you when you get to the pearly gates.i believe my old pal sport a big lunky english shepard will there if i get there.he is in a place where there wont be hunger fear and especially no hatred of any kind. again my sorrow for your loss , but it is only temporary raymond b.

  7. I feel your pain, Pat. We discovered a mammary tumor in our thirteen year old collie during a regular checkup four months ago. She went for an operation the following day but the x-rays showed the cancer had spread. They said she had about five months, so time is running out. She is loving all the spoiling she's now getting but I live in dread of the inevitable.

  8. Sorry for your loss. Pets make such loyal friends even to the end. May your fond memories of his love remain forever.

  9. Thank you. I still miss him. Maybe because his loss was so quick. I think I'm still in shock. Toad is a comfort but he isn't like Batty. He's also calmed down a lot now but he doesn't do cuddles.

  10. I have just read your tribute and you made this hoary old bugger cry. I'm now fussing over my own gormless pooch. I can only concur with the other comments.

  11. This is what scares the hell out of me about dog ownership, personally I cant imagine what it'd be like without my sidekick.
    You have my deepest sympathies.