Finally an era has come to an end. My dog Sheba passed away right around 11am today on July 26th 2007. She was 16.5 years old.
My mother got Sheba from a friend of hers when she was almost a newborn puppy – she had her eyes open, and could walk around but was scared of pretty much everything. You could hold her in one cupped hand. She was relatively happy when she lived with my mother and her husband Charlie. Her name at first was Simba (I never thought to tell my mother that her correct Swahili name should have been Nala).
I used to visit my mother on the weekends and take Sheba out to the park just around the corner. Sometimes we would sit in the dog enclosure and I’d just watch her running around. Other times, although I wasn’t supposed to, I’d take her into the main park. She had much more room there, and I’d just sit there on the grass under a tree watching her chase the footballs around that people were playing with. Other times, I’d leave her in the dog enclosure with the gate unlocked but closed and start running across the main green. Eventually Sheba would claw her way out of it and come flying across the green at breakneck speed nipping at my feet and trying to jump on me. She’d catch up to me before I even got fifty feet away.
For a little while Sheba’s brother Tyson lived with my mom and Charlie. I think eventually he went back and lived with Charlie’s sister.
When my mother died, I almost immediately went back to her house and took Sheba. Charlie gave me a call about a week later and asked me to bring her back. I figured that’s what my mother would have wanted so I did. So for the next two years I’d visit Charlie so I could see Sheba. Eventually it got to the point where I’d come over and Charlie was gone but Sheba was still inside… so I’d climb over the back fence and take Sheba out for a walk. One day I did that and went out the front door and saw a notice from the RSPCA warning Charlie that he had a week to contact them before they’d gain entry to the flat and take Sheba. I think I got there within one day to spare. So for about the next two years I had the time of my life with Sheba. Sometimes I’d whisper ‘fox’ when I saw one in the garden, and her ears would perk up and she’d start scratching at the door. Soon as she was let out, she’d fly after the fox who ALWAYS got away. That was a funny time to watch. I’d often as possible take her and my bike to Richmond Park where I’d ride around inside the perimeter and have her running alongside me. That always was a fun time. After taking the tour, we’d stop at this cafe not far from the gate and sit down on a bench where we’d have water to drink. I remember the last time I did that Sheba barely made it. She was gasping and wheezing for quite a while after stopping. I remember I’d whisper ‘walkies’… and she’d go nuts, jumping up and down, barking, scratching and leaping at the door. Simple things like walking to either Sydenham Hill or Penge East train stations and sitting with her on the platforms quietly just enjoying life with no worries.
Sheba got along with Piaf (Roger’s dog) famously. But when Piaf died, Roger got another dog ‘Susie’ who was also a Briard. At first Susie just wanted to play all the time and so Sheba would jump up on Malcolm’s bed where Susie couldn’t so she could rest. At times they’d fight – Sheba was a much better fighter and would dance rings around Susie. Of course, Susie grew to be three times Sheba’s side and bullied her horribly for quite a while. But eventually (after I’d left) they learnt to get along excellently.
Eventually I was about to take off to Oklahoma and didn’t know what to do. I was going to put her up for adoption at Battersea Dog’s Home but by that time Malcolm had already taken a small liking to her. So Malcolm sort of unhappily told me to bring her back to the house and that he would keep her. I think he just didn’t like not having a choice in taking her. So off I went.
I only saw Sheba one more time after that. When I went back to London for my grandfather’s funeral. She took a few minutes to recognise me, but after that she was the same old Sheba. Nicolas got a little bit scared of her and I had to smack her for jumping up on him and scaring him. That was a beautiful visit I had with her. Just for a few days it was just like the good old days. It hurt knowing that I had to leave her again… so I made a vow that I wouldn’t come back until she was gone.
Luckily Sheba was with Malcolm who grew to love her intensely. She had a far happier life and was far more looked after then I EVER could have. It’s surprising how much it really hurts even though I haven’t seen her in nearly two years and never will again. I loved her tremendously and will ALWAYS miss her.
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