It was March five years ago when Roy came to live with us. He'd been Bert's Aunt Nessie's dog and after she died he continued living with Nessie's partner Paddy. Now Paddy was dying and needed homes for all four of his dogs. One went to Paddy's carer, two went into council care and we got Roy.
I wasn't even that enthusiastic. I'd never met Roy but Bert was keen to give him a home. He felt he owed it to Nessie. We went to collect him. When Paddy went into the hospital, his carer had taken on the job of feeding the dogs daily but they were still spending most of their time alone. I stayed in the van while Bert climbed over the gate and opened the front door and two dogs ran out. The smaller one just sniffed around a little, the collie (our new dog) was thoroughly delighted to see him, jumping up, his tail whirring like a windmill. I gazed at our new dog, the one that I was only mildly interested in and thought to myself, "I love him!" Love at first sight.
Close up, he was shaggy and smelly, rather worried. He'd never travelled in a vehicle before. We got him home. Introduced him to Judy and Jess who weren't impressed. Fed and watered him. He settled in.
Roy liked people, food, dogs, cats and lying just outside the door watching the world go by. Roy didn't like vehicles, collars and leads, walks, upstairs, balls.
As he became even more settled he learned to enjoy treats, herding pigs and walks.
But walks had to be on Roy's terms. There were rules. Only the back lane and woods. If he was spoken to on the back lane he would turn and go back to the house so we learned to pretend not to notice him. If he got as far as the woods he'd go off and do his own thing and then come back at a time of his own choosing.
We took him to Donegal once. Obviously, he did not enjoy the journey and when we got to the caravan he refused to go to the beach and spent the entire time either in the caravan or just outside it. That was his one and only trip away. Afterwards, the only journeys he ever took were occasional visits to the vet's surgery.
He never ever went upstairs. He wouldn't play fetch or chase balls. He was just Roy and he did things his way.
Y'know he wasn't even that old. Around eight when he came to us he must have been thirteen when he died. In the last year he stopped being able to jump up, wasn't able to get on the sofa any more. Even his tail didn't whir so much. He still loved his comforts, first in the queue for supper, had his favourite visitors, Les, Ben, Mel. Harassed Bert for walks in the woods, me for treats.
And then, this Tuesday past his legs just stopped working. They'd been wobbly for a while and he'd been taking arthritis medication. Bert tried to help him but he kept collapsing. Zoe said he seemed bewildered. Yesterday morning, first thing, I called the vet to request a home visit. We made the decision to have him put peacefully and gently to sleep.
He is the fifteenth dog to be buried here.
Polly, Molly, Danny, Penny, Chip, Jock, Rosie, Peppy, Paddy, Charlie, Bonnie, Holly, Maeve, Frank and Roy.
Nine family dogs and six belonging to friends
We'll never forget you, Roy..