The winsome face in the photograph above does not belong to Edward, although the resemblance is uncanny.
No, the furry boy sitting beneath the tree in his garden in France is Digby.
Digby, along with his brother, Wilf, is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog whose daily adventures are charmingly chronicled by his master, Angus, in a blog entitled Wilf and Digby Discover France. Both brothers share enough of Edward’s valuable DNA that they have felt like family from the moment of my very first visit. Their delightful blog is my first stop each and every morning. Shockingly, Digby passed away today, the result of a voracious tick bite disease, and I now find myself grieving for a dog I never even met.
There is a soul connection one makes with one’s dog. It is as if they hand you a lifeline to another world, a world of goodness and understanding, full of comfort, acceptance and joy. My favourite quotation has always been this one by C.S. Lewis:
“Man with dog closes a gap in the universe”.
I have heart knowledge of what he means. And I know Angus does as well.
But dogs, it seems, are born to break our hearts. If only their boundless love, always unconditional, always pure, could be matched in kind with the years they are alotted here on this earth. Such precious few years, flying by like the wind.
I have followed Digby’s short, and horribly sudden, illness these past two weeks, seeing his furry face in my head every hour, getting up in the middle of the night to check and see if perhaps there was a welcome update, hoping and praying for the sweet chap to pull through. I was heartbroken to learn he had not. So I hug Edward a bit tighter today, I encourage him to hop up beside me, to place his big furry head in my lap. The depth of feeling that I have for him is worth the pain eventually to come.
There are those who think the notion of heaven is nothing more than a fantasy to soothe a fearful soul. I am not one of those people. I believe in an afterlife of goodness and peace. But my heart does not long for a heavenly mansion. I have no desire to travel down avenues cobbled in bricks of pure gold. All I wish for is a small little cottage, perhaps one near to the sea, where I might eternally dwell with all the dogs who have shared my time here on earth, from the devoted little terrier of my childhood, to big, kind, wonderful Edward, each one at play on flower filled hillsides, each one resting beside me beneath the gentle rays of a holy sun.
And I believe Digby is there at this moment, waiting on his family, waiting on Wilf.
It is a unique pain to lose a dog, a visceral pain like none other I have experienced. It is because I am well acquainted with what Digby’s passing has brought to Angus and his wife, that I find myself grieving alongside them through so many miles, wishing there was something I could do, some small comfort I could give.
I know my readers to be a kind and generous group. Please take the time to go over HERE and see what a marvelous fellow Digby was, meet his big brother, and send your love to the family.
This is one of the sweetest poems that I know.
I send it out to my friend Angus, with my love and deepest sympathy.
Man and Dog
Who's this—alone with stone and sky?
It's only my old dog and I—
It's only him; it's only me;
Alone with stone and grass and tree.
What share we most—we two together?
Smells, and awareness of the weather.
What is it makes us more than dust?
My trust in him; in me his trust.
Here's anyhow one decent thing
That life to man and dog can bring;
One decent thing, remultiplied
Till earth's last dog and man have died.
by Siegfried Sassoon