unconditional love

Dear Sarah,

It was lovely talking to you this afternoon. It seems like we could talk forever and not run out of things to say to each other.

You mentioned Amber in your e-mail to me. Can you believe when she passed away I had a week off work? You probably can, as I think we used to talk about her didn’t we?

She was getting to the stage where she couldn’t find her way to the front door, so her quality of life was an issue. It’s the hardest thing in the world when you have a pet to know when to do the right thing for their sake and not your own. I always measured things on a ‘quality of life’ basis but when the moment came it was heart-wrenching as it still came as such a surprise, even though I’d known for a while that moment couldn’t be far away.

I took Amber to the vets one Sunday morning as a matter of course and was told there was little choice as it would be the best thing for her. I reflected for a moment before realising I had to make the decision I’d been dreading. At least I was there by her side at the time she was put down. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The vet was ultra-sensitive and I’ll always be thankful for the way she treated us. Two weeks earlier I’d taken Amber to the beach – she was still able to raise a smile (see attached).


It’s amazing how stoic she was. She survived blindness caused by diabetes. Leave the furniture in the same place as it’s always been and a dog can sniff its way to the front door and around the chairs and tables without any trouble at all. I was even able to take her on walks around the neighbourhood whilst she was blind, without a lead. She’d just follow my lead the whole way, almost walking side by side.

The week I had off work I could hardly get out of bed. It was like nothing I’d felt before. But she wasn’t just a dog. I’d get up at six every morning to give her her insulin injection, and be home from work by six every night to do the same again. She had to have her shots on regular twelve hourly intervals. But I’d always do it before I fed her, just so she’d have some positive reinforcement, something to look forward to (her breakfast or her dinner) after the injection. She accepted it like a trooper, never whimpered, never complained. Her stoicism shone through like the sun rising in the morning.

Two months later I thought to myself, ‘why not give a dog a good home?’ So I made inquiries into getting a chocolate Labrador. Dad and I went to Kempsey and stayed overnight before picking up Kahlua the next day from a place called Clybucca. Eight weeks earlier she’d been born, on ANZAC Day, thirteen years to the day since Amber’s birth.

She’s filled a void, but more than that, she’s very special, having a hidden quality that’s hard to describe. And having been born on the very same day as Amber I feel like Amber lives on in Kahlua in some way. Here’s Kahlua when she was just a puppy. Cute, isn’t she? And very tired.


I was reading a book about dogs the other day called ‘Through a dog’s eyes,’ by Jennifer Arnold. There’s no better way to finish this e-mail to you, Sarah than with a quote from the book. If you see it in the bookshop or online, buy it, it’s a great read. Arnold writes;

While I was writing this book, my lovely little golden retriever, Margaret Ann, died. Margaret was as sweet and gentle a creature as has ever been born. I long to see her running towards me, ears flopping back in the wind, just one more time…I find that my body aches with my inability to do so. I refuse though, to believe I have lost her altogether.

[When my mother died I received] a small card that read simply: “For no-one loved is ever lost and she was loved so much.” When I read that I thought, ‘Yes of course. That’s it.’ We loved each other far too much to let death separate us completely. This is how I feel about my precious dogs…We share a love too strong to ever be destroyed. They are with me always.

Okay Sarah, I better end it there. I’ve said too much already.

Until next time, stay well,

Owen 🙂

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