Sad Farewell to our Dog, Rum. 23rd Feb

I'm putting this here in my Devon Diary as I think it is an appropriate place.

Today we had our lovely old dog, Rum, put to sleep.
We think he was 15 years old, but he could have been 14 or 16

Rum was a chestmnut coated Field Spaniel we got him from Wood Green Animal Shelter, Cambridgeshire. He had been badly treated, which is why he was at the rescue centre. A young couple had rescued him from a home where he had been beaten and kicked on a regular basis, but they found because they were at work all day that they could not give him a good home so did the sensible thing and handed him in to the Centre. Where we found him.
He was very fat - and I admit when I first saw him I thought he was the ugliest dog I had ever seen! He soon lost weight - but poor boy, his pads were so smooth because he had never had proper walks, that he was very footsore.

The first thing he did when we got him home was mess on the carpet - but that was nerves and excitement, he was never unclean in the house again (until these last few days where old age got the better of him).

He was called Rocky then - a most unsuitable name. We wanted to keep the 'R' sound though, and 'Rum' seemed a good choice because of his colour. (Ironic that a few years later I started writing the first of my Sea Witch Voyages!)

He came with us to the show jumping centres where Kathy was competing - the first time Ron took him over the fields Rum came to a ditch and had no idea what to do with it. Imagine, a dog who didn't know how to jump over a ditch!
He soon learnt that ditches with stagnant water in  them were good fun though!

Ron, me and Rum
He chased off after a herd of Fallow Deer once and Ron lost him. Kathy and I were back at the Equestrian Centre - Kathy had just finished her jumping round, and there was Rum trotting, as happy as could be, tongue lolling, tail wagging, towards us. Only his 2nd time at that centre, but he remembered his way back to where the horse boxes were parked.

He has been a loyal companion and a good mate for all the years in between - the sort of dog you can cuddle when you need a friend. He loved his walks, loved chasing rabbits, although it never seemed to occur to him that the things with long ears and a cotton-bob tail that sat alongside the path were exactly the same as those that were down the bunny-holes. Rum would go hurtling past all the rabbits above ground, his long ears flapping behind him like the scarf-ends that the old-fashioned pilots wore (I would have called him Biggles had I known this!) his tail wagging, lips grinning: he was always laughing - and that tail never stopped waggng until he fell ill. He won the Waggiest Tail contest once.

In the garden at our old London house
Two years ago in early January he woke me up to ask to be let out into the garden. I let him out but he was such a long time I put my dressing gown on and went out to see why he was not coming back in (thinking perhaps the foxes had been at the pigeon loft again). There was something wrong. He couldn't walk straight, he was all lop-sided and wobbly; it looked like he'd had a stroke.
I called the vet as soon as the surgery opened, and Ron and I took him up as an emergency case.
We thought this was going to be his last ride in the car.

It turned out that this illness is common in dogs (and I'm sorry, I've forgotten what it is called) It affects their balance, can be treated but if it comes back the odds of a second recovery are slim. 
Rum had at least three attacks. Each time he was left a little wobblier, his sight faded and his hearing went. His old legs had arthritis and he could only manage a slow amble, but he was still laughing, still enjoying life.

He developed a problem at night, when he would sleep so deeply he didn't realise that he was 'dribbling' a bit. The vet fixed that though, with a drop or two of medicine in Rum's dinner which tightened his bladder enough to sort things out.

We were worried about the move. It would be stressful for him, a new home, new surroundings, especially as he couldn't see too well or hear at all.
But he loved it here in Devon as much as we do. 

He wobbled up the lane with us of a morning when we went to feed the horses, pottered about the garden, enjoyed all the sniffs in the hedgerow.
He laughed when we went for a walk in the snow - that wide doggy-grin of his - he so wanted to jump about in it!

We took him to Instow beach a few days ago; his little face when he saw the dunes and the sand! He so wanted to go for a paddle, but we were careful not to let him go near the deeper channel of the River Torridge - just the shallows. He had a great time.

Rum on the beach at Instow, Devon, a few years ago
(in his younger days)

These last few days he has become even more wobbly, and was losing weight. He'd fallen over several times, a couple of nasty tumbles, and was not able to manage the slope in the garden or the step in the front garden.

Old age, his illness and very probably the dreadful start that he had in life had finally caught up with him.
We took the decision to  let him quietly slip away before he deteriorated even further. I have always believed that the last service we can give our pets is to ensure they do not suffer any unnecessary pain or indignity, even if it means we have to go through that awful grief of losing them. It is more of a comfort to know they have not suffered just because we can't bear to part with them. 

Rum's bouncing along in a cornfield, hurtling past the bunnies watching him, heading straight for a rabbit hole. I can see him, head stuffed down a rabbit hole,  paws scrabbling, bum and tail wagging fir to burst. He looks up, grinning.
'Ain't life grand mum?'
'Yes Rum, it is.'

 Rest in peace boy.

Rum in his younger days

I’ll lend you for a while 

I’ll lend you for a little while, a dog of mine, God said,
For you to love while he’s alive, and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be one or fifteen years, or maybe more than these,
But will you, ‘till I call him back, take care of him for me, please?

He’ll bring you love to gladden you, and should his stay be brief
You shall have his memories, and solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all on Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down here, I want my dog to learn.

I’ve looked this wide world over, in my search for teacher’s true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love, and not think labour vain?
Nor hate me when I come to call, and take him back again?

Will you shelter him with tenderness and love him while you may?
And for the happiness you’ve known, forever grateful stay?

But when the angels call for him, much sooner than you planned,
Brave the bitter grief that comes, and please, try to understand.

He was made from love and trust, and most lovingly bred...
 I’ll lend you, for a little while, a dog of mine, God said

Author unknown

(follow-up links to our new 4-pawed friend, Baz:


  1. Helen, I am so sorry. I know how much Rum meant to all of you. You were such a great comfort to me when I lost Buddy and if I can be of any help to you right now please feel free to ask. My heart hurts for you as I know how bad it all feels. Like you once shared with me the greatest gift we can give our pets is their dignity. I hope he's up in heaven running and jumping in the fields with Buddy. Much love and hugs to you and your family Helen.

  2. Such a sad moment, Helen. The only consolation is that all the happy memories you have of him stay inside you.

    Much sympathy,

  3. I am very sorry for your loss Helen, it is a hard thing losing a pet, you are right though, letting them go with dignity and as painfree as possible is what we as pet owners need to do...

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss, but certainly it is what Rum needed as you mentioned. Ray and I both send our love and sympathies. *hugs* His love and companionship will stay with you in spirit.

  5. I'm so sorry, Helen. I hope that writing this helped, or at least filled your poor sore heart with happy memories to dull the ache a little. I'm sending virtual hugs and wishing I could do more to ease the hurt. K x

  6. Anonymous6:24 pm

    hugs to you all xxx, Rum was a super dog,i remember him catching rats when you were at bury farm yard, love your write up about him, RIP Rum xxx

  7. Big big hugs to you all and I am crying, lots! Thank you for sharing your lovely Rum with us. Love P xx

  8. I am so sorry for your loss, Helen.

  9. Helen, truly sorry to hear about Rum, I know first hand how devastating it is to loss a pet, companion and true loyal friend. Rum's seems to have had a wonderful life and lots of love. He as not left you, for he is in your heart and wonderful memories. These you have to treasure always, and no one can ever take that away from you, Carole X

  10. Helen, I send hugs your way, and hope that the memories of h is smiles of enjoyment in Devon help ease the pain. How appropriate that he came to have the name Rum, he was a sign of what was to come? I hope that the memories will comfort you over the next weeks.

  11. Anonymous11:27 pm

    As I read this with tears in my eyes I want to express my sincere condolences to you and your family. We also
    lost a wonderful companion this year and it was heartbreaking but I believe in my heart you've done the right thing for your friend.

  12. thank you everyone - not been able to read all the omments all through (I'll start crying again) but I will do in a couple of days. The house is very quiet without him. We will get another dog soon - from the rescue centre here in Devon. I believe on giving a dog who needs a good home a good home.

  13. What a lovely tribute to a wonderful dog - so many lovely memories. You gave him a wonderful life - and it is fantastic that he could share some of the joy of your new life in Devon. You did the kindest (and for you, the hardest) thing for him at the end - and he is indeed in a happy place where there is no pain or old age, just waiting until you can be reunited again. He's not lost to you, just in another room. Lots of hugs and love xxxx

  14. Oh Goodness, Helen, you know how to make a sentimental Welshman go weepy, don't you? :) Rum had a bad start but its obvious that you and your family more than made up for it; and to end his days at 'Windfall Farm.' Which of us could ask for better ?

    "Three things in life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." ( Henry James)

  15. Thank you everyone. I'm still a bit tearful, especially when reading such lovely condolence comments - so forgive me for not replying individually to you all.
    Moving forward, my daughter and her partner went to the Dog's Trust at Ilfracombe the other day - Rum will never be replaced, but the hole is too big a gap to leave empty, especially here in Devon where the lane needs a dog running up it. We prefer to give a needy dog a good home, so the rescue centre is the place of our choice. We don't want a young puppy (they find homes fairly easily) so wanted a dog between 1 - 4 years. We figured the right dog would find us...
    There was a black collie/lab cross with white chest and paws, big brown eyes. He fixed those eyes on Kathy, then shuffled round on his bottom as she walked past his run, kept his eyes on her. There was also another dog, a springer spaniel that might have been suitable; or maybe the two of them?
    Well, the two dogs didn't get on very well with each other, and when my husband and I went to meet them, the springer was very nervous of me (we reckoned he did not like my walking cane)but the collie cross - well he was a bit like Donkey in the first Shrek movie: jumping up and down "Pick me! Pick me!"
    So we picked him and he will be coming home to live with us on Tuesday!

  16. What a beautiful story about Rum! So sorry for your loss - but congratulations at the same time for adopting a shelter dog. I work at a humane society here in Michigan and I know the best dogs are there.

  17. Thank you Ursula - we miss Rum very much, but Baz, the new dog is so happy to be living with us!
    (other posts about Baz:

    (links also added above at end of the post)


Thank you for leaving a comment your interest is very much appreciated! It will be published as soon as possible - depending on whether I am at my computer or walking up the lane, or being chased by the goose or helping mend fences after the pony has broken through YET AGAIN.... :-)