Sue Perkins letter to Pickle

For anyone who’s ever loved and lost a dog. Sue Perkins’ letter to Pickle is both funny and heartbreaking. A must read for any dog lover….

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My darling girl,

First, a confession: I had you killed. I planned it and everything;

asked the vet round and a nurse in a green uniform with white piping

– all with the express intention of ending your life. Yes, I know. I know

you had no idea, because I had been practicing for weeks how to keep

it from you, and how

 when that time came

 I could stop my chest

from bursting with the fear and horror and unbearable, unbearable

pain of it all.

I sat there, in your kitchen (it was always your kitchen), numb, and

filled in a form about what to do with your remains. I ticked boxes as

you lay wheezing in your sleep on the bed next door. I made a series

of informed, clinical decisions on the whys and wherefores of that

beautiful, familiar body that had started to so badly let you down.

Then, once the formalities were over, I came in and did what I’ve

done so many days and nights over so many months and years. I lay

behind you, left arm wrapped round your battle-scarred chest and

whispered into your ear.

I love you.

So that was my secret. And I kept it from you until your ribs stopped

their heaving and your legs went limp and your head fell as heavy as

grief itself in my arms. Then, when I knew you were no longer

listening, I let it out – that raging, raging river of loss. I cried until my

skin felt burnt and my ears grew tired from the sound of it all.

It wasn’t pretty.

 Confession over.

Now what you also need to know is that this is NOT a eulogy.

Quite frankly Pickle,

you don’t deserve one,

because, as you are well aware,

your behavior from birth, right up to the bitter end, was

unequivocally terrible.

As a pup, you crunched every CD cover in the house for fun. You

chewed through electrical cable and telephone wires. You ripped

shoes and gobbled plastic. You dived into bins, rolled in shit and

licked piss off of pavements. You ate my bedposts.

As an adult you graduated to raiding fridges and picnics, you stole ice

cream from the mouths of infants, you jumped onto Christmas tables

laden with pudding and cake and blithely walked through them all,

inhaling everything in your wake

You puked on everything decent I ever owned. You never came when

called, never followed a path, never observed the green cross code

and only sat on command when you could see either a cube of cheese

or chicken in my hand (organic, or free-range at a push)

And last, but not least, you shat in my bed (yes, I know they were dry

and discreet little shits, but they are still shits, you shit)

Here’s another thing, while I’m at it.

I’m angry. Why? Because you,

madam, are a liar. You made me think you were OK. You allowed me

to drop you off at our mate

Scarlett’s farm and leave you there for

weeks while I went away working thinking that all was well. Yet it

wasn’t, was it? The cancer fire was already lit, sweeping through your

body, laying waste to it while my back was turned

I look back at photos sent to me whilst I was way from you, and I can

see it now

 that faint dimming of the eyes, the gentle slackening of

muscle. The tiniest, tiniest changes in that cashmere fur of yours. It

haunts me still. Had I been there, I would have noticed, would I not?

Me, your anxious guardian and keeper of eleven and a half years

I found out about the lump the day I landed. Scarlett rang me with the

news as I boarded a train for Willesden Junction. The most

momentous moments can come at the most banal. It had just

appeared, out of nowhere, as surprising and fast as you, on your neck.

You never did anything by halves, and there it was, the size of a

lemon, wrapped round your lymph.

I took you home the next day, to Cornwall, the place that we love

best, and you allowed me, for a while at least, to believe that nothing

was wrong. We rose at sunset, in the light of those Disney-pink skies,

and walked the ancient tracks together – before you got bored and

veered off, full tilt, in search of the latest scent.

But your lies could only carry you so far before your body gave you

away. I saw your chest starting to heave when you took a breath at

night. Your bark became hoarse. You no longer tore around the house

causing havoc. You were biddable (you were never biddable), you ate

slowly (oh, don’t be ridiculous)

Yet still, the denial. Forgive me for that.

After all, we’d beaten it

before, you and I. Twice. Even when the vet told me your lungs were

hung with cancerous cobwebs and there was nothing more to be

done, I went out and started doing. I sped to the health food store and

returned with tinctures and unguents and capsules. And there you

were having to eat your precious last dinners covered in the dusty

yellow pall of turmeric and a slick of Omega 3s. So silly. So silly, in

retrospect. I should have let you eat cake and biscuits and toast and

porridge. But I thought I could save you. I really thought I could.

I didn’t ever believe that something as alive as you could ever

succumb to something as ordinary as death.

After all, how could you be sick, when you ran and jumped and

played, day after day after day?

And then, I got it. You were doing it all for me. You were dragging

yourself into the light, every morning, for me. All of it. For me.

And as fierce and possessive as my love was, I couldn’t let you do that

any more

You were eighty years old, by human reckoning. You were eighty

years old and you still flew into the boot of the car without assistance

(assistance is for old dogs, you didn’t know how to be an old dog,

you still strode the Heath with that graceful, lupine lope of yours. You

skidded round corners, you sniffed and barked and hectored and

lived to life’s

 outer margins. On the day you died, you pottered for

over an hour in the meadows with the sun on your back, without a

care in the world. I am so very grateful for that.

When someone once took a punch at me, you leaped in the air and

took it. When

I discovered I couldn’t

have children, you let me use

your neck as a hankie. You were my longest relationship, although I

think any decent psychologist would have deemed us irredeemably

co-dependent. You were the engine of my life, the metronome of my

day. You set the pulse and everything and everyone moved to it.

What a skill.

I woke to your gentle scratch on the door. (it wasn’t

gentle, it was horrific and you have destroyed every door in every

house we have lived in – I am just trying to make you sound nice) and

the last sound at night was the sound of you crawling under your

blanket and giving that big, deep, satisfied sigh.

You were the peg on which I hung the all the baggage that couldn’t be

named. You were the pure, innocent joy of grass and sky and wind

and sun. It was a love beyond the limits of patience and sense and

commensuration. It was as nonsensical as it was boundless. You

alchemist. You nightmare.

Thank you for walking alongside me* during the hardest, weirdest,

most extreme times of my life, and never loving me less for the poor

choices I made and the ridiculous roads I took us down

Thank you, little Pickle. I love you.

From the four eyed one who shouted at you, held you, laughed at you,

fed you and, for some reason utterly unbeknownst to you, put all

your shit in bags.


Pickle Perkins

Born 20-08-02

Skipped to next destination: 14-01-14

* I say alongside, you’re a beagle. More like 400 yards to the right. In

a thicket.


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