HAMISH THE WESTIE
Find out who was Hamish? (Pg 2/2)
As I have already said, Hamish soon became 'my shadow' and I was always happier and more relaxed when he was with me. He was also my safest confidante - because I told him ALL my secret feelings and unlike some friends, he never let me down and never 'blabbed'. In bad times (for example when I was maliciously labelled 'a paedophile' by some jealous members of the concert wind band I played in, to ensure I was discredited enough to get me out of the way so that I wouldn't be appointed the next Musical Director and the Chairman's mate be put in post) - Hamish was always a great remedy for my depression and anxiety, and my tears of frustrations at being 'sent to Coventry' by so-called 'friends'. A walk with him, a hug, even a 'Daddy lick' from him would be better than medication. I am not sure I could have got through these horrible times without him.
A rare photo (as photos were not allowed)
- Hamish on night patrol at Windsor Castle
Hamish made many friends, both two legged and four legged. He got on well with about 99% of other dogs (well just like humans - you can't like everyone!) but to name all his canine friends would take too long, but I have happy memories of being with my dear friend Alison (who is arguably the second most important owner of Pembrokeshire corgis in the UK) and the various dogs she has had during Hamish's thirteen year life. Hamish of course has been used to sniffing corgis at Windsor! Alison's latest corgi - Rupert, has been a great friend to Hamish, with them sending messages on What'sApp, and although a great difference in age, when they were together they would play like two young puppies. They never snarled or barked at each other - and it was a true friendship, just like my own friendship of nearly 30yrs with Alison.
In January 2013, in the snow you could see how white
a West Highland WHITE terrier was
Rupert the Corgi & Hamish the Westie -
best woofer friends posing in my garden
Two of my proudest moments as a Westie Dad were 1) in May 2013, Hamish came 2nd in a Dog Show in the "Most Handsome Dog" category at Plumpton College Open Day and 2) in August 2015, Hamish came 1st in the "Best Trick by a Dog" category in the Denmead Show - Hamish was able to 'die for The Queen' (laying flat down on command) and 'salute The Queen' (by raising a paw to his head), which my mother had taught him when he was a puppy.
Hamish wearing his "2nd" rosette
from the Plumpton College Open Day May 2013
Hamish wearing his "1st" rosette
from the Denmead Show August 2015
As Hamish got older he used
his 'Paddington Bear
hard stare' to good effect
- especially when he wanted something April 2014
Hamish wearing a poppy
ABOVE: At his 10th
in June 2019, Hamish with
his 'Uncle Richard' MRCVS
(our Vet from East Grinstead)
- who cared for Hamish
all his life (to the very end)
RIGHT: My garden, decorated
for Hamish's 10th
in June 2019
From birth, Hamish had 'tummy troubles' - but it soon became clear that he had colitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the colon) which would result in 24hrs of not eating, chronic bloody diarrhoea (toxic poo we called "chopped liver") and sickness. Sometimes we would have to spend all night with him, walking the streets, or sitting out in the garden (covered in blankets) whilst Hamish was being sick etc. Whilst he was young, he seemed to recover fairly quickly after an 'episode', however as he got older - it took longer for him to recover and sometimes he would go nearly two days not eating, not drinking etc... which caused us a lot of worry as being a small dog it was important that he did not get dehydrated. The 'episodes' also became more frequent as he got older. Despite everything, Hamish always bounced back.....eventually! As a result of Hamish's stomach issues (which are common in West Highland White Terriers) - similar to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) sometimes we had to curtail our plans as there was never any warning, no trigger or pattern so we just coped with these 'episodes' for years. As a result of his condition, we were told that his life-span would be shortened - and that anything over 10yrs would be a bonus.
Hamish was a very friendly dog, patient and never once did he bite me (or anyone else) or any other dog or show any
aggression like snarling his teeth etc. There was the odd dog that perhaps he didn't like (for whatever reason) and would bark at it a few times, and he often would chase the odd pigeon or magpie in the garden that annoyed him. He was no angel, or perfect - but I never once worried about him with anyone (including children) or any other dog, even horses. Even after he was attacked by a greyhound when a puppy, he was still friendly with other greyhounds! He was regularly groomed and we did our best to keep him looking good and in November, he would (like his humans) always be proud to wear a Royal British Legion poppy - for the period of 'remembrance'.
In June 2019, we held a 10th birthday party for Hamish in our garden at home. As is typical with any collection of 'dog walking' friends who came along, we knew the dog's name - but rarely knew the name of their human!!! We had about fifteen dogs in my garden, not one dog disgraced themselves by pooping or peeing on something they shouldn't have, or showed any aggression towards anyone or any other woofer friend. Guest of Honour to the party was 'Uncle Richard' - who stayed all day... in fact when I tell the story of his attendance, people are always surprised as they had never heard of ANY vet going to a dog's birthday party. It was a happy party and it was nice to celebrate with our friends and neighbours (not the feral nasty ones who are very selfish, inconsiderate and disrespectful). We wanted to have a party to ensure that we had a good memory of Hamish, it may have seemed a bit bonkers to others - but we knew that the clock was ticking on Hamish.
Hamish 'having a chat'
Hamish had a lovely knack at wanting
a ball thrown, but he would rarely fetch it!
In the last few years of his life Hamish started getting lumps and bumps over his body. Many were hidden by his lovely white fur - however when he developed them around his mouth, ears and on his nose - they would often cause him some annoyance. Although these crusty lumps often would bleed, they were not life threatening, and as Hamish was getting on in years a general anaesthetic would be too risky - so we left them on him. Despite all these issues, Hamish carried on leading a good happy life.
Hamish in my garden -
one of the last photos I have June 2022
After Christmas 2021, Hamish's health started to decline. He had been such a comfort during the Covid-19 pandemic, and having him around was never a chore (even when he was ill!) His 'episodes' became more regular - on average every nine days, and then it would take three days for him to start eating and drinking. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the beginning of the end and that my loyal and faithful companion's extra time was coming to its close. We had always said that we would never prolong his life for our own benefit - and although 'saying goodbye' is never easy, we were not prepared to put him through protracted costly tests/treatments etc, which were never going to cure him. I had also said that when the time came, I was not sure that I could actually be present when he crossed 'the Rainbow Bridge' but as the time became nearer and nearer - I became resolved that for Hamish, I should be present, so that he was calm and relaxed and with his daddy.
Eventually, it became necessary to speak to 'Uncle Richard' (the Vet) in June 2022 to discuss Hamish's future - and we had an honest discussion. He did a blood test and it became clear that Hamish had liver failure. If he had been a human, he would have needed a liver transplant... so we tried some liver supplements to see if that would give him a little more time to rebuild his strength, but sadly he stopped eating, lost weight, was very lethargic and slept most of the day. This was no life for him. I was glad to know that he was not in pain, but it was clear that he was not happy, restless and uncomfortable.
An appointment was made with 'Uncle Richard' - as I did not want Hamish to cross 'the Rainbow Bridge' at the hands of a stranger out-of-hours locum vet etc. I wanted his final moments to be calm, peaceful and for him to die with dignity and kindness. We took him for his final journey to 'Uncle Richard's House' and in the calm of his clinic, he died in his daddy's arms, calm, peaceful, with dignity, kindness AND LOVING GRATITUDE for the years of joy, love and happiness my faithful Hamish had given me and so many other people.
Hamish The Westie -
who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 6th July 2022
and every day without him feels like a year