It was with much sadness this summer that Jay and I lost one of our closest most loyal friends. Our beautiful Border Collie, Willow.
When Jay and I came to the decision to stop fertility treatment and received very little help with the adoption process from the local authority where we lived, we decided to get a dog. Jay wanted a Border Collie and I didn’t mind what breed we had. I did some research on the internet and found a breeder with some puppies. All were reserved, but one could possibly be available again. I was sent a picture of a tiny black and white pup on a white blanket and I knew she was mine.
We went to view Willow when the breeder confirmed she would be available. I remember going into a huge farm kitchen and five three-week old pups came over to play. After a short while Willow tottered on short little legs to the Aga and managed to reach the tea towel hanging there. She pulled it down and lay quite happily chewing away.
We brought her home in September 2000 at seven weeks old. To say the next thirteen years flew by is an understatement.
She took everything in her stride. From losing and gaining our family cats, to moving from one end of the country to the other to having a pair of noisy children come to live with her. Nothing fazed her. As long as she had a walk, a bed and a ball she was happy.
She and Jay adored each other and as the years ticked on, I dreaded the day we would lose her. I used to joke she would live until she was thirty. If only that had been true.
She was only a couple of weeks over her thirteenth birthday and still looked so young, with very little grey on her muzzle. We knew she was slowing down a little and then one day Jay noticed she had a lump near her back passage.
A visit to the vets confirmed the worst. She had cancer. The lump on the outside was only a fraction of what was happening inside her body. The vet sent her home with ten days of pain killers and time for us to say goodbye.
At first both Jay and I were in denial, she looked so well, how could she be sick? Then on the Thursday she had a “bad day”. She slept most of the day on the front step, her favourite place to watch the farm vehicles go by. She didn’t want to eat her breakfast, or the left over cereal milk the girls would pour into her bowl.
I telephoned Jay at work and we both came to the decision that on the following Monday, when her medication ran out, we would take her to the vets to be put to sleep. So with my throat choked up I made the appointment.
She didn’t make it.
Willow took a turn for the worse on the Saturday and passed away at home with Jay by her side. AJ and I were racing home from a guinea pig show in the Scottish borders and finally made it ten minutes after she took her last breath.
It seemed appropriate that it was raining the next day as Jay dug her grave. We wrapped Willow in her favourite blanket, the one my mother in law had knitted her, and lay her to rest, a goodbye note from AJ tucked under her paw.
Unknown to us, Jay’s dad had taken some pictures of Willow just days earlier, then spent time in his studio creating a beautiful pastel portrait of her which now hangs on our living room wall.
Everyone who has a dog they love with all of their heart believe they have the best four pawed friend in the whole world. I know we did.
Rest in peace Willow. We love you and miss you. Always