Last week my dear dog Bonnie died. She lived twice as long as the vets predicted but it was only weeks in the end. Some of it felt like years, but it was only 14 weeks from the first diagnosis.
There is so much I could say but I don’t know where to start so I am going to tell Bonnie’s story. While she was ill I often talked to her about her life and adventures so here it is for you.
Part One. Life in Cornwall.
Born on Midsummer Day in 2001, Bonnie was a much loved puppy in the smallholding in West Cornwall where she started life. Her mother was called Sprout and was black and white but with the prick ears that were passed on to Bonnie. Here is Bonnie with her mum and one of her sisters
Bonnie went to live in Lamorna and this is where I first met her at a neighbour’s house. She was introduced as the new puppy but I was surprised that she was living in a barn, tied on a long rope.
I fell in love with her from the first moment and whispered to my friend “She’s my dog!”
Her early adventure was to run away at the age of 12 weeks and for 11 days she was lost in the autumn wind and rain. She survived by eating blackberries and turned up, with a purple muzzle, at a neighbouring farm. Her owner was then persuaded to keep her indoors but left her alone much of the time with a cat for company. Thus started her love of cats.
Circumstances meant that the owner was not able to care for her and Bonnie came to live with me, changing her name from Biscuit to Bonnie. What a happy day when my Easter Bonnet arrived home!
Home was a Cornish granite cottage and Bonnie had a new big sister – my dog Blue. As you see it is normal in British homes to let your dogs sit on the chairs. It amazed me when she came to Catalunya that she just knew it wasn’t acceptable here.
Nearby there was an ancient stone circle, the Merry Maidens and all year round this was one of our most visited and favourite places
And we had all the Cornish coastal path to explore – Blue always taking the lead
So many friends to play with and when Grace arrived next door Bonnie herself became the big sister
Playing ball was always her favourite game – to the point of obsession. This proved to be a blessing later on as even when she felt lousy she always would perk up at the sight of a ball
Bonnie was a typical collie in that she was suspicious of strangers but adoring of friends
She didn’t like being in town but loved travelling and was always happy to leap into the van for a trip.
We went to Scotland the first Christmas after I got my camper van and while Blue had to have a large cage in order to feel safe, Bonnie was happy to lounge on the seat
When I went to Catalunya I didn’t intend to stay forever but life takes you by surprise and when I met my partner and moved in with him I had to make decisions about my dogs. It feels like a huge thing to take dogs out of the UK and especially to bring them to a hot country to live in a town. So I arranged for them to stay in their familiar home with friends of mine moving in to look after them. It was one of the hardest times for us all. I enjoyed my life here and they enjoyed their life there – but we missed each other and my visits were bitter sweet for me and – perhaps – for them
With other people living in my house, I often stayed at my friends who live next door. The dogs came over too and we would all sleep together as cuddled up as possible.
When I think back on it I can hardly believe that we all lived like this for so long.
There was another problem at this time. My partner also had a dog and when she first came to visit Cornwall it seemed they would all make a happy family. We hoped to find another house with a garden so we could all live together in Catalunya. But Duna never accepted Bonnie. And she came to hate her. It came on gradually but there were signs from the start
The summer we visited Cornwall with Duna and then left my dogs behind again was terrible for me. I knew they were happy at home and I didn’t know if they would adapt to a new life in Catalunya but I had to find a way to bring us all back together. I started work on organising to rent out my house, create a living space for us to stay in when we visited and to get pet passports for Bonnie and Blue. I knew Bonnie would be fine but would dear Blue, so connected to home, benefit from the change?
My only certainty was that the weather in Catalunya would be better for their joints.
In December 2011 we set off to begin our new life. The journey took us from Lamorna to Folkstone, through the Channel Tunnel and all the way down through France.
It was the beginning of a great adventure.
I was terrified. Blue was willing and Bonnie was keen to get going!
Tomorrow Part Two – Life – and Death – in Catalunya