This afternoon, at 4.25pm, a light went out of our lives. Our beloved miniature schnauzer Bubba died.
Back in mid October John took Bubba to the vet as he seemed to have lost a lot of weight and his appetite wasn't what it was. Over the next few weeks all sorts of tests were carried out, and eventually he was diagnosed with a tumour on his lungs at the beginning of December and we were told it was terminal. It was a huge shock.
We didn’t expect him to make it until Christmas, let alone the second half of January. Strangely, until today he wasn’t in any pain or discomfort. His breathing became laboured but he was alert, cheerful and had quality of life. But his appetite diminished even further and his body weight reduced from 8kg to under 6kg. By the end he was all skin and bones. But he was still the same loveable little dog who has been such a major part of our lives for the last eleven and a half years. This morning we realized that he had changed. He could barely walk and was clearly starting to feel discomfort. We always knew when it would be time to let go, and today was that time. Neither of us can bare to see any animal suffer, let alone one that we have cared for for so long. The end was very serene. As Bradley, our very caring vet, did the necessary, John had lovingly cupped his head in his hands, as I stroked him. He looked up into our eyes as if he was totally at peace with what was about to happen. We both regarded it as not only the right thing to do, but our final act of love for him. John was calm. I was in floods of tears.
We then brought our Jack Russell, Dude, into the room and allowed him to see Bubba’s body and sniff him. We had been advised that dog’s don’t understand sudden disappearance but do comprehend death, even if they don’t grieve like humans. To be honest, he seemed rather disinterested and unaffected, which the vet said was completely normal. But since then, he’s been quite subdued. He’s lying on the couch beside me, as I type this.
Bubba and Dude have spent almost their whole lives together. We got them a week apart in September 2011, when they were both about six weeks old. They have since then been inseparable, never having spent a night apart, so there will be a period of adjustment for Dude, without doubt.
Their relationship has been a joy to watch. Only once have they had a viscous fight. Otherwise they have always got on really well. Dude is the most intelligent dog I have ever known, whereas Bubba, it has to be said, was a little intellectually challenged. But adorable with it.
He came from a Schnauzer breeder in Upminster. A few weeks earlier we had lost our beloved Jack Russell, Gio. Initially we had decided we wouldn’t get another dog, but we both found the house so empty and after a few weeks we decided that we would get two puppies, so if we ever had to leave them alone, they would have each other for company. It was a great decision, not that they’ve ever been left alone much.
I remember the first time I met Bubba. We went to the breeder’s house. It reeked of dog. There were schnauzers everywhere. It was not a breed of dog I knew much about and if I’m honest, I wasn’t keen. I loved Jack Russells and wanted two of them. But as soon as I saw Bubba I was instantly smitten. Bear in mind at this stage he was probably only three weeks old. I could hold him in the palm of my hand. I remember lying back on the breeder’s couch and he went to sleep on my stomach.
He was supposed to be pedigree, but it turned out he had jaws which didn’t match, so even if he had been a viscous dog (which he most certainly was not) he could never have bitten anyone even if he had wanted to.
A few weeks later we brought him home and he and Dude met for the first time. We recorded the event on video.
There are three more videos of that first meeting HERE.
In 2012 we rented a big house in Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast for a nine day long house party. Bubba was in his element. He was only a year old. We would take them both for a walk on Brancaster beach every day and let them off the lead. Each day they would run off just that little bit further. Towards the end of the week they ended up running off over the sand dunes. I’ll always remember John in a blind panic and falling over in the sand as he tried to get them back. They did, of course, eventually come back, but I will admit to being a bit worried. A year later we bought a house in Norfolk, with a walled garden. Bubba hated the three hour car journey but absolutely loved the garden when he got there. He’d spend hours sniffing around and one of my favourite pictures is of him on top of the railway sleepers which house what I laughingly call our vegetable garden.
I’ll always remember his love of burrowing into the molehills that would appear on our lawn from time to time, and them running into the house looking all innocent but with the telltale molehill dirt still stick to his beard. They both also loved to sit in the kitchen window and bark at anyone or anything that passed by, as you will see here!
Bubba did love his sleep. And his favourite place to sleep was in my “hole”. I think I had better explain. In our sitting room in Kent, John has his sofa, and I have mine. Where I sit on my sofa, a dip in the cushion has developed, which somehow has become known as my “hole”, and Bubba regarded it as his favourite place in the whole world. He would curl up in it and sleep for hours, until I would reclaim my territory! But Dude would always gravitate to John’s sofa and Bubba to mine.
Bubba also had a really endearing little habit. Each evening, after he’d had his meal, he would come into the sitting room. Stand on the rug and stare at me for a few seconds. They he would lay down, get on his back and wriggle. I videoed the last time he did it, about ten days ago. It wasn’t the full routine, but when it finished on this final occasion, he just trotted off through the door into the kitchen. I remember shedding a tear at the time, as it seemed very symbolic. Watch it HERE.
Both of the dogs are very much creatures of habit. They like their food at the same mealtimes each day. They don’t like it when I have football on the TV. They definitely don’t like it when West Ham score a goal and I cheer. Not that there’s been much of that lately. You know when you get a dog that this day will come. It goes with the territory. But that doesn’t numb the pain. If you’re not a pet owner you probably can’t understand how all-consuming the grief is. Contrary to what people sometimes allege, dogs are not child substitutes for gay people. I never wanted children anyway. But they are members of your family. And now we’ve lost him.
Bubba definitely had his favourite people. Our friends Daniel, Jenny and Tony were three of them. He was also always so excited to see them. He’d jump up on their laps and give their faces a good licking. Bubba was never a lapdog, but he’d spend hours asleep on Jenny’s lap. One of the saddest pictures I have is of Bubba watching Jenny go down the stairs after she said goodbye to him for the last time a fortnight ago.
Since Bubba’s diagnosis, hundreds of you have sent your good wishes. John and I are incredibly grateful, and so would Bubba be. He’d want to give each of you a good lick.
All we can do now is get on with what will be normal life. But life without Bubba. We’ll be on full Dude watch to ensure he gets a lot of extra love.
THIS VIDEO was taken at Christmas, mainly because I wanted a real memory of him, and my love for him. I just watched it again and of course welled up. It sums him up. Perfection.