The loss of our wee dog Marci

Marci, in the foreground, with Meggie

Marci, in the foreground, with Meggie

We’ve always had Yorkshire terriers, Labradors or spaniels; sometimes all three together. Marci was a Yorkie we bought as a pup in 1993, almost 20 years ago. At the same time we bought her half-sister, Meggie, who was two.  At that time we had another Yorkie, Lucy, and shortly after that got a three-legged Jack Russell, Rosie, who unbelievably at one time belonged to an elderly one-legged man. My daughter, Janet, took him when the man died but found that a flat in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh was not the best place for a dog, hence the reason for Rosie joining our pack. Lucy died at 17, Rosie next at 20, Meggie next at 19, leaving us with only one dog, Marci.

Marci was a robust Yorkie, unlike the tiny long-haired Yorkies with bows in their hair. I kept her coat quite short as she loved to romp in the country; a long coat would have picked up every vestige of mud, gathered every fir twig and she would soon have been looking like a hedgehog caked in mud ready to bake on a traveller’s fire. She loved her walks, she loved her food and she loved when the family visited, sulking for hours after they left.

What she didn’t like was fireworks, and she shivered with fear on Guy Fawkes night and any other time there was a celebration that involved bangs and rockets. That phobia was resolved about two years ago when she started to go deaf. In one way that was a blessing, but it had a side effect that I never anticipated. Marci and I were walking through the woods, one of the regular hour-long walks near the house. She usually walked in front of me but seldom more than a few yards. One day I spotted a buzzard with white wing tags, which was quite unusual.  I was trying to get a better view of the bird and my attention was distracted from Marci, who in her soundless world continued to march on unaware of my temporary avian interest. In the few minutes I had been looking at the buzzard Marci had disappeared from sight. I ran on along the track that was our regular route, shouting and whistling, but of course the sounds fell on deaf ears. I continued right round the usual walk, along the bottom of the wood, through the wood at the far end and along the top, then headed homewards to see if I could still catch up with her. I went into the house to tell Jan, my wife, what had happened, then was about to head back to the woods again. When I went to the gate in to the garden Marci was waiting there for me, having made her own way home and crossed the extremely busy A85 on her own.

A year ago Marci began to go blind, unsurprising for a very elderly dog. She coped well with her blindness since she knew the layout of the house and garden. She had occasional knocks but had learned to walk more slowly and keep her head down so that the crown of her head took the knock rather than the nose or eyes.  A wee crash helmet would have been handy. I recent months she began to have more bad days, when she would eat little or no food. We were always convinced she was not in any pain but there were several times we thought the end was near and we’d need to call the vet. In the morning when the decision had to be taken she would wolf her food down and be as right as rain (almost) again. By this stage her house training had been virtually forgotten and she was relegated to the kitchen rather than having the run of the house. Accidents on the tiled floor of the kitchen were no big deal, though we did go through a mountain of kitchen roll and mild disinfectant. Night time meant the spreading of puppy-training absorbent pads on the floor, which sometimes were beneficial and sometimes not – again not a problem on tiles.

On Monday this week she took no food, merely sniffing it in disdain as if it was not the kind she liked. On the Tuesday we tried (at various times) pork sausages, pork chops, scrambled eggs and two different kinds of dog food, all to no avail. Marci loved treats but could not even be tempted by them. She was weak through lack of food and slept on her bag, referred to as her ‘Wee Waltzer’ as it and a larger version resembled the waltzers at the fairground. In the evening Jan covered her with a blanket and we went to bed. We were both hoping she’d sleep away peacefully during the night, though we’ve never had a dog that has done that.

On Wednesday morning she’d moved from the ‘Wee Waltzer’ to the ‘Big Waltzer’ in the night but still showed no interest in food or treats, though when I held her water bowl to her she had a long slurp of water. Regretfully it was time to call the vet.

I buried Marci in her ‘Wee Waltzer’ at the top of the wood, beside a collection of other pets. Her grave is marked by a white stone. She’s been a great wee companion and we miss her terribly.

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