Our gorgeous dog, Amber

Dogs. You love them and they love you back and then one day, sometimes without warning, it’s time for them to go. Last night was the time for our gorgeous Labrador, Amber, and now the computer screen has gone all blurry.

The time came without warning. A couple of hours earlier she’d been giving me her usual gimlet-eyed stare as Harry and I ate our dinner, guilt-tripping me to give her something from my plate, which last night I didn’t because I was eating salad. Mind you, being a Labrador, she wouldn’t have said no.

At twenty past ten she had a massive stroke. Let’s skip the details but somehow we got her to the car and I sat with her on my lap. I’ll skip the rest, too, but just over an hour after the whole thing began, we were back at home, without her, staring at the empty places, listening to the silences. Disbelieving.

I don’t want to think about that now. I just want to remember her total, utter, spectacular amazingosity. She was a complete soppy charmer. She had a wonderful life, despite the congenital serious joint problems; she was renowned at the vet’s surgery for endearingly proffering a paw to anyone, no matter what the treatment, and there was a lot; she lived three times as long as we were told to expect; she twisted us around her paws, knew her left from right and a load of other tricks I won’t bore you with; she gave us so, so much pleasure and fun, and I know we gave it back to her.

And here she is. Our fantastic dog.

Classic paw pose
Complete poser
Mistress of all she surveys
Not her best look, tbh
Snow – one of her favourite snacks
Amber of the Antarctic
With her best friend, Clouseau

Loyal, beautiful, funny, clever and a major part of our family. We were very, very lucky.

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47 Responses

  1. She’s a beautiful girl, so sorry for your loss. It’s surprising how much it hurts when it happens. We lost our gorgeous girl 3 years ago & I still miss her, (even with her terrible habit of jumping from the boot into the back seat as I was driving and licking my ear…..)

  2. Thank you. You are all very kind. I don’t want to make too big a fuss because it’s one of those “natural” things every pet owner has to deal with at some point. Also, she was lively and happy up till the moment of her stroke, despite the collapsing back legs that were normal for her; and she kept true to her greedy breed up to the very last moments, wolfing down the ridiculous dog version of millionaire’s shortbread that was she given. We are really sad but we have fabulous memories. We’re not doing it again, but I’m *so* glad we had her.

    xxx

  3. Sending you so much love and hugs. Labs are such glorious dogs, our last dog was a retriever and his love knew no bounds. I still miss him. I wish there was something I could say that would make everything ok but I know it doesn’t work like that. All I can say is that I am thinking of you x

  4. Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss, Nicola, and especially the suddenness of it. I know how devastating it is. I lost both my beloved Goldies within seven months of one another and the hole they left in my life was huge. I’m sending you very big hugs and love. xxx

  5. However ‘natural’ it might be, it doesn’t alter the pain you feel Nicola. I’ve been there……..so sending you heartfelt sympathy.

    Warmest Wishes

    Denise

  6. Oh dear oh dear. We’ve been there too… three years ago. But now our lovely new girl is two and a half, and it’s the best way – to give another dog a wonderful life.

    So sorry though! It’ll be hard for a while.

  7. What a beautiful dog, Nicola. Having lost our dear Mae West a couple years ago, I share your tears and ache. They love us so without ever asking for anything in return. He was lucky to have you for his forever home…and now you’ll have him forever in your heart. Sloppy hugs to you.

  8. Sorry sad to hear this, Nicola. Labradors are the most gentle, sunniest dogs and Amber sounded one of the best. Enjoy her memory.

  9. She will live forever in your hearts and your memories, and in the pages of your book. I am so, so sorry. It distresses me so much to think of the pain you are going through xx

  10. So sorry to read this, Nicola – I know Amber had a special place in your heart.
    You’re probably still in shock with the suddenness of it all – that nightmare stage where you still can’t believe it’s true.
    Sending hugs – because there are no words to make you feel better at the moment. (((((((Nicolaandfamily))))))))
    Thanks for sharing her pictures and your grief. x

  11. Oh hugs from Downunder too. I know you said she would chase me (and she would have caught me in a nano-second) but I would have hugged her in return! THinking of you.

  12. Clouseau and I are very lucky to have had such lovely times with you and Amber – very fine friends. I’m very sad for you, Nicky. x

  13. So sorry to hear this, Nicola.

    Kahlil Gibran says it better than me:

    “For what is it to die, But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, Then we shall truly dance.”

  14. So sorry, Nicola. A dog wants only to bestow its heart. Clearly Amber did just that, and the memories will stay with you for a very long time.

    Zoe

  15. I’m really sorry I haven’t replied individually to each of you but the message is the same to all: thank you so much. You’re very kind. And Harry said not to worry because actually he had given her a scrap from his plate when I wasn’t looking…

    And no, we won’t be doing it again. She was she best dog we could ever have hoped for, and that’s enough.

  16. I know how painful it is to lose a beloved pet, especially if it’s unexpected. It really hurts. So sorry.

    And what a lovely husband to sneak food to beautiful Amber.

  17. Oh, Nicola, I’ve only just seen this. Many (((((hugs))))) and much sympathy. My 20-yr-old cat Smudge had a stroke several years ago and I still remember the anguish of loss.

    Be kind to yourselves. She’s still with you. You just can’t see her any more.

    1. Jan, thank you. We also had a cat called Smudge, who died about 10 years ago. They just get under your skin if you let them, don’t they? And you have to let then because that’s what makes having pets so wonderful. Xxx

  18. Bore me any time about your dog because quite simply, it won’t be boring, she sounds incredible. I’m glad you were with her at the end x

  19. So sad and such a shock for you both. Dogs like Amber offer the kind of happy & faithful love that makes tough times easier to bear, if not ths time. You can see by these beautiful photos that’s how Amber rfelt about you, her family. Sorry she’s gone.

    1. Mary, I guessed as much! Thanks for your kind words. It feels strange and horrible but we have to go through it, as other pet-lovers must who allow their pets right inside their hearts. x

  20. I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where!) that pets are deep, deep wells we pour our emotions into! Absolutely true.
    I dread to think of the state I will be in when I eventually lose my cat, but as you say – it’s worth it for what they give us.
    x

  21. I’ve been away and taken a while to find your new blog. I’m so sorry to hear this very sad news. If your feelings are anything like ours when we lost our beloved 14 year old GSD in June, I’m sure you will be heartsore for a while, but as you say, it’s worth every sore moment for what our pets bring to our lives.

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