Editor’s note: This article is not the sort of article that I would normally post on the Clear Thinking site, but it’s something that’s very close to my heart and I hope you enjoy it. Love Meredith xx
“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.” - Unknown
In August 2000, Paul (my husband) and I discussed the idea, and weighed up the pros and cons, of getting a dog. Paul had an affinity towards Airedales, after owning one – Bosun – in Zambia when he was younger.
Then, as coincidence would have it, he came across an ad in the local newspaper for Airedale puppies.
We looked at each other and simultaneously said, “There’s no harm in looking!”
When we arrived at the breeders we were delighted to see five of the cutest 6 week old puppies. One of them stood out from the rest. He was quieter than the others – more confident. He sat on his own, looking straight at me as if to say, “I’m coming home with you today!”
And that’s exactly what he did.
He was the most adorable little pup and we were so happy to have him in our lives. We named him Milton, after the author-poet John Milton.
At two months old, Milton was the size of my foot! I thought I would get a basket for my bicycle, so that he could travel around with me. But he outgrew that idea in no time. Within six months he was 25 kilos and almost fully grown.
Milton loved squeaky toys, teddy bears and tennis balls. He loved walking on the beach and swimming in the river. He loved children and other dogs. He loved everyone and everyone loved him.
He attracted attention wherever he went. He was just one of those remarkable dogs.
Three years ago we drove down to the park and as always Milton couldn’t wait to get out of the car. As he jumped to chase a ball he pulled up yelping in pain. He had popped the cruciate ligament in his right leg. Ouch!
A year later he had a sarcoma removed from his left leg and within six months he had another one removed, again from his left leg. Double ouch!
These three operations not only made his back legs weak, they put tremendous strain on his lower back.
Six months ago Milton collapsed while walking in the river. His back legs gave way. I rushed to help him and when he got to the shore he managed to walk to the car. Fortunately that wasn’t too far away.
I took him straight to Ian, our vet, who gave him an injection, which we had to repeat every six weeks.
Three weeks ago the injections stopped working. Milton lost the use of his back legs.
An x-ray revealed deterioration of his lower spine. Ian recommended a mass of medication and said that we will know in two weeks whether or not he will improve.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” - Josh Billings
Last Thursday I was up at 3am to assist Milton outside. I had become his back legs. Soon after, I carried him inside and onto his favourite sofa.
At 4.30am he let me know that he needed to go outside again. And as he sat at the front door looking in, I looked back at him and he gave me that look – you know the one you dread to see.
He was telling me, with his eyes, that this was it. He couldn’t go on anymore.
In Memory of Milton
On December 13, 2012 we said good bye to Milton – our best friend.
I hope you enjoy watching A Tribute to Milton as much as I enjoyed putting it together. It was great therapy, as was writing this article.