Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

Our home's a bleak house now that Rocky's no longer around


By Allen Sleith

Theresa May's painful performance earlier this week at the Conservative Party Conference has by now been picked over ad infinitum, but a remark by one of her MPs brought a sharp stab of pain to me.

He likened the prospect of the Prime Minister staying in office much longer as being a bit like the prospect of hearing the vet tell you that you've come to the moment when you ought to put the family Labrador down.

I winced, because two weekends ago we had to sadly carry out the said deed for our beloved Rocky.

Let me reminisce. Our children were turning the screw on us to get a dog and began to bombard us with updates on litters of Labradors just born or about to arrive.

We resisted for a while, but once we went to visit a litter in Ballygally on the Bank Holiday Monday in August 2007, there was no way back from choosing one.

It turned out he chose us, nibbling Jamie's shoelaces with exuberant zeal.

A few weeks later, this beautiful black bundle of joyous energy 'gallumped' his way into our home and hearts and we've never been the same since.

Labradors are the world's most popular breed and their all-round virtues and capabilities are well documented.

But for many of us, they are simply the most adorable of family pets, lifelong companions who turn a house into a home and always, always greet you with unwavering devotion.

The bleakness of entering the house and especially the kitchen now that he's gone hits us every time; you feel like someone's thrown salt in your eyes and punched you in the throat. An inventory of our numerous outings tallies, at a conservative guess, that he and I walked at least 10,000 miles together.

Sam Keen once wrote about the bond between humans and animals.

One starry night, riding home from a friend's farm to his own in California, he felt his horse nudge him in one direction. Keen, though, chose another route, only to get lost and scrape his head on thorny branches.

He learnt his lesson from that nocturnal journey - animals often have an instinct for what's right far beyond our dull capacities.

His evocative closing line has deep spiritual resonance: "Trust the luminous darkness."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph