Ken came to me in the summer of 2015, and was to bloom into an exceptionally gentle, loving and sweet-natured dog, even by greyhound standards. That’s not to say that he didn’t develop a cheeky side too, as he settled in; one favourite game he invented for himself was “Hunt the Slipper!” This would be nicked from wherever he found it, usually the back door mat while I was out in the garden, to be deposited every time on the living room rug. Ken would be found standing right beside it every time too, tail waving and with a big grin on his face. He also had his own collection of toys of course, and especially enjoyed showing off his talent for repeatedly catching these in mid-air in another game known as “Nice One Kenny!”
I live in inner London and though he was quick to settle in at home, to begin with he was quite shy about going out and about on the noisy busy streets. But he soon grew in confidence there too and went on to become a great mascot for our local WI walking group: easy for newcomers to spot at our meeting point, polite to humans and other dogs alike, and unfazed by train, tube and even bus travel.
Alas aged just eight a lump on his thyroid turned out to be a carcinoma. Although that was operated on successfully, a few months later he started to become wobbly on his legs. We hoped that might be just muscular weakness caused by a drop in thyroid levels. He’d begun medication for that, but then suddenly and quite dramatically lost use of his back legs; probably there was something neurological going on too. Soon it was clear that there was no prospect of him making a good recovery, and time to make that hard last decision for him. He passed away very peacefully at least, on his bed with me stroking him and after enjoying a last tripe stick and venison doggy sausage.
Goodbye darling Ken; we didn’t have long enough together, but all the same we were very happy, weren’t we? So here’s a last little tribute I’ve written for you – one you richly deserve.
Farewell dear Ken, my guileless creature,
Of sweetest, gentlest, humblest nature;
A greyhound pet unspoiled by favour,
A model of good dog behaviour,
Without a dream, without a wish,
Beyond more sardines in your dish.
Contentedly through life you’ve trotted,
Along the path that Fate allotted.
Now Time, your ailing body seizing,
Deprives it of all strength and feeling;
So lie you down without a pain,
To sleep, and never wake again.