Far From Home

I had a fight with my cousins Aine and Jess today.

I never fight with them.

Never.

Not once have we had a serious fight.

But today I am really mad with them.

It is over a dog.

My Uncle Sean’s dog, Rory.

My Uncle Sean is still in hospital. It is unlikely now that he will recover.

When the time comes and he is gone I cannot imagine how hard it will be for all of us to deal with that. But more than that I cannot fathom how hard it will be for Rory to deal with it.

Rory is a 16 year old bitzer of a dog. A bit black Lab, a bit something that could be German Shepherd. Or something much hairier. He has bad arthritis. He is a big dog. It is difficult to manoeuvre him out of Uncle Sean’s house.

So Aine and Jessie who are in charge of hospital trips and feeding Rory have left him in the house. All alone. One of them sees him twice a day to feed and water him. But that is it. Apart from those brief moments he is all alone. Has been all alone for most of the days since Uncle Sean fell ill. And all of the nights.

I am not saying that Aine and Jessie are insensitive to Rory’s plight. I am not saying anyone in the family is. They are doing the best they can in a very trying situation. They have families and commitments of their own. But Rory is a companion dog who has to all intents and purposes lost his master. And he will be wondering what is going on.

And he is all alone.

I remember Uncle Sean’s house in the middle of winter. How the wind spirals up from the North Atlantic and shakes the eaves and whistles under the window ledges. I remember Rory as a pup, how his little ears would move like radar when he heard that wind, how his eyes would widen and how Uncle Sean would say : It’s alright, boy, it’s just the wind.

There’s no one to say that to Rory now.

I begged and cajoled Aine and Jessie to get him out of the house. I pleaded that he no longer be left alone. I can’t forget his little ears moving about when the wind came. I can’t forget his eyes.

But my cousins say they are doing enough, that they are stressed, that Rory is fine where he is, that it will upset him more to be moved at the eleventh hour. That logistically they don’t know how to get such a big dog out of the house.

I get that. I really do. But I can’t forget the ears and the eyes.

And I know the power of that wind.

Such is the tyranny of distance.

If I was in Ireland right now I would be in the house with Rory. I wouldn’t be what he wanted, I wouldn’t be Uncle Sean, but at least he wouldn’t be alone. At least he wouldn’t need to worry when the wind came.

But I am here. So far away I am of no use at all.

All I can do is light a candle and pray to the angels and the pixies and maybe even the leprechauns to watch over this dog who has meant so much to my Uncle Sean for the past 16 years.

And he to him.

All I can do is whisper to my wind which comes from a different ocean but might just be strong enough to turn to a wish or even a prayer that will swirl silently all the way to Uncle Sean’s house.

And all I can hope is that the whisper will say : It’s alright, boy. It’s just the wind.

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23 thoughts on “Far From Home

  1. Oh Selma, I know how difficult it must to have that picture of that pup in your head and to feel empathy for how he must be feeling.

    But from my experience of having a very old dog like your uncle’s Rory is, I do know that with age comes wisdom and I bet you anything that he has learned over the years that the wind is not to be scared of.

    My old dog as he aged his hearing went too, so that the noises that used to scare him, he no longer heard. He was quite content to lay and sleep. And though I’m sure Rory is missing your uncle, I think it would cause him far more distress to be moved out of his home and familiar surroundings if he doesn’t need to be. At least now he knows where he is and is being cared for.

    I hope this helps put your mind at rest a little. x

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  2. I was going to the same thing about hearing that Singer has above. I do think older dogs are less worried by things going on outside and more self-contained. Nonetheless it is so sad to think of him all alone, having no understanding of why his beloved master has deserted him. So very sad.

    But yes, I guess your cousins are stressed and over-run. And I learnt when I was with the boys’ father, that some people do not think about animals in the same way that I do. Al’s family were farmers and whilst obviously they took care of their animals and treated them well, they were not sentimental about them in the slightest. Everyone is different I guess. But it does sound a bit like neglect, doesn’t it, even though no-one means it that way.

    Poor Rory. Poor you. Poor Uncle Sean.

    But don’t let this endanger your relationship with your cousins.

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  3. Hi SINGER:
    Thank you so much. The kindness and care of your comment has really made me feel so much better. I am a terrible, terrible worrier when it comes to animals, especially dogs because I know what gentle souls they are. Your experience has made me realise that maybe for the moment, Rory is OK. I can’t thank you enough. From the bottom of my heart ♥

    Hi RELUCS:
    You are a wise woman. I really can’t let this ruin my relationship with my cousins because it will just make a stressful situation much worse. I am very sentimental when it comes to dogs because I always think of my dear golden retriever, Henry, and what a sook he was. I worried about him all the time.

    I know my cousins don’t mean to neglect Rory, they are a tad overwhelmed right now, but I do feel for the poor old guy. It’s a tough situation for all of us. I really value your perspective. Thank you so much!

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  4. Oh poor Rory. It’s tough, but I wonder if he’s not better being in the house he knows. Maybe suddenly being taken to a strange house with kids could be even more upsetting I agree with your cousins . Old dogs don’t like new things, sort of like old people I think. I’m sure he’s lonely but he wants your uncle.

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  5. Gosh, that just makes the sad story worse. But I think Singer is right – Rory is so old – VERY old for a large lab – and probably does spend most of his days sleeping. No doubt he is waiting for Uncle Sean, and he should because he’s only known Uncle Sean to be loyal to him. I think to remove him from the house would take away the comfort he does have while he waits.

    I really do think he’s okay, but I wish I could hug him.

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  6. Ahhh…Sel, I know exactly how you must be feeling. I always worry about animals and I was in a similar situation a couple of times, lucky for me I was close enough at the time to intervene and get the doggie out and about for walks, myself.

    Rory is probably grieving a bit already too.Maybe he’s not feeling much like being out and about right now, without his beloved master around. Another thought, could they not shell out a bit for dog walker to get him out for at least one or two walks a day? We have tons of people here who do this for a little bit of cash. Maybe Rory could make a new friend or two in the process.

    Hugs dear and take care, G

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  7. So very sad – dogs shouldn’t be left alone if they aren’t used to it, but it is a difficult situation for everyone and they are all doing the best they can, I suppose. Maybe they could enlist a neighbour or someone to come and keep him company each day.

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  8. Rory, my thoughts are with you old friend. I wish there was something someone could do and spend more time with you. You deserve a human touch at this time when you are separated from your master.

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  9. It’s a tough situation for everyone, but if your cousins can find just a bit of time maybe they could check with the local vet to see if there are any sanctuaries or groups in the area that foster animals left alone due to their owner’s being in the hospital. We have some here in the US but it does vary from state to state. I thinking the best for everyone, including you!

    Sagacious Woman

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  10. I once visited, fed, watered and walked a dog while its owner was in hospital. The situation was similar to yours; she was large, elderly and not in the best of health … and wouldn’t leave the house.

    Sadly, my neighbour died, and her son came round to thank me, and ask if I would like the dog, as he couldn’t take it back to Saudi Arabia with him. I was tempted … but my own Barney had just died, and I didn’t want another dog just yet. However, if he couldn’t find anywhere else …

    Nevertheless, he did find a sanctuary, where they said no matter if he’s adopted or not, they never put a dog down unless it’s hopelessly ill and suffering.

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  11. Hi Selma,
    A very sad story, unfortunately it happens to a lot of dogs as their owners get really sick, but seeing the age of this dog, he knows that something has defiantly happened and nothing will be the same again. It is just so sad, I really feel for you Selma, and the difficult time your family are going through.

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  12. this post touched me on a level that I find difficult to face. I am an animal lover and my initial thought of how the dog might be feeling had me spinning in small circles of worry and heart ache.

    Then I looked at my Ancient of Dogs, a 17 year old lab mix. She sleeps 23.5 hours a day, getting up only when she needs to be taken outside and when it’s time to eat. She is blind and deaf and cannot be left outside alone. She is content to stay on her bed most of the day. I like to think she’s dreaming of the days when she was a puppy and her pack (my offspring) were young and they all played in the yard.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Rory spends as much time sleeping as ‘reo does, and while there may be some small part of him that wonders about the changes, he’s probably fine not being fussed over or having his life turned upside down.

    Still, it’s hard not to worry and tear up when I think of him alone, but as long as he’s warm and safe, then he’s fine. Barbara mentioned that here we have folks who will foster elderly pets when their owners can no longer care for them. Perhaps there is someone living near Rory who would be able and willing to look in on him occasionally. Maybe his vet would know.

    If it’s any comfort, when I read this post, I wanted to fly to Ireland and sit with Rory. Instead, I sent up a prayer to Mother asking her to reassure him that everything will be just fine.

    Hugs.

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  13. HI LAURI:
    You are right. It seems that Rory’s age is what is helping him cope with all of this. He is a great sleeper and for now seems content to not be disturbed. So far, so good.

    Hi HEATHER:
    I know you’ll have done a bit of your special magic for me cos your heart is so vast. I believe it will be so too XX

    Hi JENNIFER:
    He does seem to be OK but of course, I can’t help but worry. I wish I could hug him too.

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  14. Hi GERALDINE:
    Rory can’t walk well because of his bad arthritis. I guess the major issue for me is him being on his own for such lengthy periods. However, since I spoke to my cousins they have put together a roster of people to help look after him. They were feeling bad about it too. It looks like all is going to be well.

    HI MELEAH:
    Thank you for your kindness. It means a lot!

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    When someone becomes gravely ill so many unexpected things come up. It can be hard to attend to everything. The good thing is that me being so upset about Rory has made everybody over in Ireland realise they have to do something about him. I am really glad I interfered in my typical fashion 😉

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  15. Hi ROSHAN:
    You are such a sweetie. You really do have a very kind heart ♥

    Hi BARBARA:
    Thank you for your wonderful suggestion. I mentioned it to my cousins and believe it or not there is an organisation in their area. Someone is going to be looking after Rory from tomorrow who the family actually knows. I can’t thank you enough because I had no idea such things existed. You are awesome!!!

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    That is so encouraging. It is an upsetting thought to possibly lose the person but also the dog. It just makes it all so sad. I hope that if my Uncle does pass away that someone decides to take Rory in.

    Hi MAGS:
    Oh, thank you so much. You are such a kind person. I am so grateful to you.

    HI GERALDINE:
    A hug from you keeps me going. I hope you know that !!

    Hi KAREN:
    Oh me too. This has been very hard for me because I am such a die-hard dog lover. I used to volunteer at the RSPCA but it became so difficult to see all the abandoned dogs. Those people do such good work. I am in awe of them because it is heartbreaking to see those little doggy faces looking up at you. I’d take all the dogs home with me if I could but I’d need acres of land to house them. So any dog that is alone, well, it is tough for me.

    I know that like your dog, Rory enjoys a bit of a snooze. And I know now that he will be alright. Your prayers are really significant to me, Karen because I know you really mean them.

    Thank you.

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  16. I’m so glad your cousins were able to find help with Rory. It’s even better that the caregivers are familiar with everyone and Rory. It must be such a relief for everyone!

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  17. Hi KAREN:
    It is happier than I thought it would be and for that I am so grateful. Everyone’s help has made me feel so good. There are so many kind, compassionate people out there, aren’t there? It is wonderful!!!

    Hi BARBARA:
    It is an enormous relief. They were as worried about Rory as I was, as it turns out. I am so glad it is working out!

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