ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Man’s best friend can become one of the family

Charlotte and Eric
Charlotte and Eric

THIS is Eric. He was part of our family for just about 12 years. My 50th birthday present and the best birthday present ever.

Poor Eric went off to the park in the sky last week. He had been a bit ill for the past few months. But there was nothing to suggest that he would die.

But die he did, nice and peacefully, no injection, no drugs. He just died.

Now, I know some people will say he was only a dog. And he was a dog all right.

It’s quiet about the place now. Eric barked a lot. Samoyeds bark a lot. But, Eric barked an awful lot. And though I loved the big furry mutt, I think he might have thought his name was ‘Shut Up’ and not ‘Eric’ (he was called after Eric Cantona)!

From the start, he was an indoor dog.

Of course, he wasn’t allowed in the bedroom. Well, only at night. And he was never allowed to climb up on the bed. Except in the mornings... every morning. And he ALWAYS came on holidays with us.

Eric could obey a command. Say ‘Sit’ to Eric and he sat, sometimes for as long as four seconds before getting up again.

Like most dogs, Eric liked a rub. The older he got, the more he liked to be rubbed. He would tell you with a nudge or a bark. Sometimes, you’d know when a big sloppy snout landed on the keyboard of your laptop.

And he barked. He barked when someone called to the door. He barked when you stood up. He barked when you sat down. Or if you crossed your legs or scratched your head. And he barked his head off when Charlotte was told it was time for bed and to ‘give daddy a kiss’.

That’s how we knew he was very sick.

Eric was lying on his spot in the corner and Connie told Charlotte it was time for bed and to give daddy a kiss.

Eric never budged. And when Connie called him, he never responded. He just lay there, breathing a bit awkwardly.

We called the emergency vet in UCD and we were told to get him there as quickly as possible. Our neighbour, Danny, carried him to the car.

But Eric didn’t last the night.

You might think it over the top that people have sympathised with us. And of course it is nothing like the loss of a relative or friend, nothing.

But it is the loss of a member of the family.

We got a note, too, from Eric’s vet William in the Nutgrove Veterinary Hospital, mourning his loss.

Now he’s in Dog Heaven.

He was a great pal, a real friend, an affectionate lump of white fur. Charlotte knew him every day of her life.

And though we won’t be long without a pet pooch, we miss him a lot.

Because he wasn’t only a dog.