Obituary for Holly


Obituary for Holly- April 1996- August 6th 2010

Holly came to us after a failed attempt to adopt an adult dog from the RSPCA. The adoption went wrong, for various reasons, and the dog was re-homed elsewhere- nobody’s fault but it proved an incompatible match of owner and dog that was insurmountable.

She came from a family that allowed their dogs and their children to roam more or less wild and when she came to us as a tiny puppy, she was riddled with fleas, her belly was distended with worms, she was underweight and filthy. But she had such lovely kind eyes, eager to please and loving that the rest simply didn’t matter; there was nothing a bath, a good meal or ten and a few well chosen medicines from the vets’ wouldn’t fix. I’d gone to see a littler of puppies but by the time we got there, only two remained; the fate of the other 8 is uncertain but was probably a bucket. The remaining pup was to be the plaything of their three year old child. They were not cruel people, just ignorant and thoughtless and I suspect Holly’s sister Tess had a decent enough life when looked at dispassionately.

The vet put her age at perhaps five weeks old, and commented that she shouldn’t have left her mother; but the mother had already been got rid of by the time we got there, supposedly re-homed, so we supplemented her solid food with puppy formula and she grew rapidly and filled out into a healthy happy dog.

That was in 1996, when we lived at the very edge of the North Yorkshire moors, and her daily walks were up in the forest that clung to the side of the hill and up onto the open moorland at the top. Her first winter, only half grown still, the winds and the blizzard conditions were such that my husband had to put her inside his coat and carry her off the top; she had been blown over by the biting gales that swept across the snow covered moor.

We moved in the May of 1997 to rural Norfolk and Holly’s landscape became rivers and woods and fields, softer but just as exciting for her and morning and evening(and often in the middle of the day too) we wandered for miles, sometimes with my friends and their dogs. Holidays and days our, Holly came too, loving car travel as much as she enjoyed everything. She wasn’t so keen on sea travel, her one sea journey across the strait between Pembrokeshire in Wales and the lovely Caldey island lasting maybe half an hour, most of which she stuck her head under my arm and shivered and refused to look around her. Once we disembarked, she loved the day on the remote island. Bus and train she loved as much for the attentions she got from passengers.

Six years of Norfolk peace and quiet and midnight walks passed and we moved again to the Midlands, to just outside Loughborough and about 10 miles from Nottingham. A new landscape of canalised river and grazing pastures met her, not to mention a full acre of garden, complete with a population of cheeky squirrels she was determined to catch, lying doggo for hours allowing them to get close before making a dash at them. Did I mention she was brought up by cats and was convinced for years that she ought to be able to climb trees the way the cats did? No matter. She did bring down a few squirrels in her lifetime, not to mention rabbits and on two occasions, deer. As a young dog, she was a very fast runner, and her mixed ancestry suggested a dose of whippet in the DNA, though as she matured she resembled most closely a border collie, though a smaller one, and with the shorter flat coat of a labrador. She was such a pretty dog, people often assumed she was a breed of some kind and asked for the name of the breed and often the number of the breeder. Being wicked, at the start, I used to tell people she was a rare Norwegian Elf-hound but could never sustain the story for fits of giggles.

In 2003, our life changes dramatically again and we moved to Suffolk and this funny little seaside town and her life was enhanced by daily walks along the beach and swimming and foraging for shellfish and stealing fishermen’s bait and sandwiches. Our walk took us through ancient woodland first and then along a stretch of beach where I seldom saw another person, and back into another ancient wood and then home. At weekends we went further afield, exploring the forest of Dunwich further along the coast.

Last September, we discovered she had cancer of the tongue and the vet gave a very poor prognosis. It was aggressive and likely to kill her very quickly, we were told. She was unconcerned and carried on as normal but we were devastated. I found some herbal capsules called C-caps and I do believe that they, along with the Metacam the vet gave her to help her arthritis(“There’s some evidence it may slow cancer, but I can’t promise that.”) gave her almost a year of quality life. Until a fortnight ago, she was going for long walks and woofing down her food happily. Even days before her death, she was happy to go for slow walks in her favourite places.

Then she went off her food. For a few days she was tempted by things like cooked chicken and other favourites and then, only milk. She wasn’t in pain but I could see she was getting weary.

We knew the time was coming and kept hoping she would just pass away in her sleep but that wasn’t to be. On Thursday we made a decision that we would ask the vet on Friday to put her to sleep. One last car ride.

She went very peacefully, totally ready to go, and we took her home, wrapped up in her blanket and buried her in the garden under the lawn.

There’s a massive gap now in our lives. She wasn’t a big dog, but she had a huge and loving presence in our lives and I cannot imagine what life will be like without her. I keep looking for her nose peeping round the corner when I come home. I wait for her to nudge me, to say, time for a walk?

Dogs give love without thought of return. I think we can learn a great deal from them.

Thank you for reading.

33 thoughts on “Obituary for Holly

  1. I’ll not single out a particular phrase for all your words felt at home within me. Of course, your loss reminded me of my own — both four and two-legged. I’m told by others that we somehow internalize those we’ve lost so that they become part of who we are — more so, than when we shared life together. May it be so with you and Holly. May it be so with all of us.


  2. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful dog, Holly. I know how hard it is. I still mourn my beloved Henry who died over 10 years ago. He was such a good friend to me. I am truly sorry.


  3. Sorry to hear about your dog. It seems to me sometimes (as a dog owner) that it’s something of a misjustice that these animals who, as you so aptly put it, “love without thought of return” can touch our lives only so briefly.


  4. This beautfully written, I was crying by the time I finished. I never got a chance to meet her, but I know how much she meant to you and Elle. I give you guys all my love and strength through this hard time. (((hugs)))



  5. Viv…….my sincerest sympathy on your loss…..I hope Holly is at the Rainbow Bridge right now running with all of those who arrived there before her.

    Rainbow Bridge

    There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth
    It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours

    Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
    hills, valleys with lush green grass

    When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this special place
    There is always food and water and warm spring weather

    The old and frail are young again
    Those who are maimed are made whole again

    They play all day with each other
    There is only one thing missing

    They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth
    So each day they run and play until the day comes
    when one suddenly stops playing and looks up !

    The nose twitches !
    The ears are up !
    The eyes are staring !
    And this one suddenly runs from the group !

    You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
    you take him or her into your arms and embrace
    your face is kissed again and again,
    and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet

    Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated

    Author Unknown


  6. Oh Viv I’m so sorry. I remember walking with you and Holly and my dog Mac. Holly was a lovely girl, lucky she found you and lucky for you you found her. That’s if you believe in luck of course.



    • This was in my spam folder. I am sure it is spam as it is clear that whoever wrote the commment hasn’t read the article. I don’t have an RSS feed either, as far as I know. I just wonder why.


  7. Viv, reading about Holly has touched me on such a deep, heart level. She sounds like such a beautiful spirit and what a life you gave her. What times you shared together. All of those different places you explored together – different landscapes for you … different smells and exciting trails for her to follow. I’m so happy she came to you and your husband and spent her years on earth in your family.

    I can just imagine her – your rare Norwegian Elf-Hound. She sounds like a girl who could make her way into many a legend.

    Love and hugs,
    Bethan X


  8. So sorry for your loss… I once had a pet cat. Had him for 10 years. When he passed I swore I would never go through that pain again… That was 10 years ago… I still miss the company. Losing a friend is hard. Take care Viv


    • Thank you Enreal. It is hard, but I haven’t reached the point in my life yet where the pain is worse than the pleasure of their company. I will maybe one day but not yet.


  9. After your encounter with the helicopter and the cows, I felt I knew Holly a tiny bit. Now, I feel I know her a little more. Thank you for that. I think it’s an incredible blessing to have a friend like Holly and know she’ll live on in your heart.


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