I have been very touched by the many emails I have received relating to my mother's recent death - thank you so much, they have been greatly appreciated.
My mother's dog, Jay, has been with us for two weeks now and at last is beginning to settle down, or perhaps resigned to the situation might be a more accurate description. Bewildered, bemused, baffled was how I would have described her during first days here. Every time I left the room she would look completely panic-stricken but then when I returned, she would look at me as if to say, Who on earth are you! But now she has the confidence to take herself off exploring - and to elbow the others out of the prime place in front of the fire!
We dog owners always like to imagine that our dogs will be devastated without us. The truth is, dogs adapt and re-home remarkably well as, unlike humans, they don't waste time looking back. This is not to say they don't have memories - I am sure if I took Jay back to my mother's house she would run round looking for her - just that they tend to live for the here and now. This is the third and I hope, final phase in Jay's long life. She was born and bred in Cumbria and spent her life as a kennelled working gun dog. But her owner's circumstances changed which is why, in middle age, she found herself heading south to the cushiest life imaginable! At the funeral, many people commented how good it was that my mother died first, knowing how devoted to Jay she had been. For my mother, yes but for Jay, no. What a shock it must have been for a 14 year old dog first of all to find that my mother had vanished and then after an 8 hour drive north to start a new life with someone she didn't know that well, in a house she had not visited for four years. It says a lot for her resilience that she has accepted her fate with such equanimity.
Jay, bless her, is a reminder of just how adaptable dogs can be. I am sure she misses my mother and her previous good life - but sensibly, she has decided to move on.
Thank you all for all your interesting emails over the past year. I wish you, friends and strangers alike, and your dogs a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.