Tuesday, 1 November 2011


The tributes are flooding in. Texts, Facebook posts, emails, phone calls. As my iPhone chings to life for the umpteenth time, the man across the aisle humphs, gathers his things and moves to another seat.

‘She was an amazing person,’ says Vincent. ‘I’ll always think of her as Lily’s dog-sister. She really was a member of the family.'

‘Oh hey now!!’ emails Sophia’s sister Rose. ‘Hey now’ is her family’s unique expression of comfort and sympathy. ‘Such brave girls (you and her). Richard says he will always remember Dusty for her kindness. She was so sweet-natured and nice to Percy when he wasn't always very nice to her (although he is very sad to hear the news and is now considering his own mortality). Iona says, “Super Hey Now,” which is the most healing and comforting phrase in the Fry lexicon. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx’

Facebook message from my goddaughter Alice, Sophia's daughter. ‘She really was the most adorable baby girl, with a personality more endearing and intelligent than a great many humans. You must be heartbroken. But I honestly can't think of a dog who enjoyed a more loving family and rich life than she did.’

From Meredith, who's seen Rose's tribute on my wall and isn't even a dog-lover: 'My favorite doggie of all time. Endearing, affectionate, obedient, uncomplaining (esp about dieting!), and beautiful.  You can’t get better than Dusty. I am sad – and I send you a very big hug.'

‘I’m crying too much to go to Sainsbury’s,’ writes Sophia from her BlackBerry® wireless device.

I haven’t even told Sal or Cass yet, but I can't. Not now. I'm feeling drained. Plus my London friends were probably more attached to Dusty as a person, having known and often looked after her since she was a baby. 

I want to talk to Lily, but she’s been so shut down lately that I don’t think phoning will be a good idea. Quite apart from the fact that one can never get through. I email her.
‘Hi Darling, I’m very sorry to say, our darling Dusty Do has gone. Poor baby girl. I decided not to go to Vietnam until tonight, so I could be with her. She went to sleep very peacefully, with me stroking her silky ears all the time.’

I close my eyes and try to sleep. The bus corners and a shaft of sunlight floods my vision. The loss of Dusty comes in a wave that overwhelms me. My eyes open with a start. I look out of the window at the cars speeding past, the trees in their brilliant autumn coats. I need to stay in the here and now. If I close my eyes, I see Dusty lying on the floor. It’s a good thing I have this trip to concentrate my mind, or I could imagine sliding into a black hole.

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