We got him at the age of ten weeks, he was the puppy of my sister’s dog Hazel. He arrived after a seven hour car journey wide awake and ready to explore. His first attempt took him into the glass fronted bookcase, he managed to squeeze in beside a row of books but discovered he couldn’t turn round and get out and set up such a noise.
His early years were mostly memorable for his many many visits to the vet after eating something he shouldn’t have; socks, torch batteries,a large bar of Bournville chocolate (boy was he sick after that one), 2 pars of silver ear-rings, box, ribbon and wrapping paper on my birthday, a tub of Polyfilla (necessitating hourly spoonfuls of cod liver oil so that it wouldn’t set inside his tummy), whatever he could steal from the fridge etc etc. The vet used to greet us with “What’s he eaten this time?”
He broke both his front legs by knocking the wallpaper pasting table over onto himself at four months and sported neon pink/green/orange casts for weeks, the various colours were because he kept chewing the casts so they had to be renewed regularly.
He jumped onto a cupboard under the upstairs front bedroom window, landed on a mat and sailed straight through the open window landing in the Michaelmas daisies – fortunately no broken bones on that occasion.
After swimming in a local brook he developed Weil’s disease and was very seriously ill for months.
At seven years old he became profoundly deaf but learned to respond to sign language. He had problems with his ears all his life and had a number of operations to remove growths from inside the ears.
When he was eleven we began looking after Tilly, a large white GSD, he accepted her into his life and happily shared his family, his home and his toys with her (not his food though, she would be told in no uncertain terms if she got too close to his dish!)
Later when Charlie came to stay (large brown GSD) he shared his life with him too and was delighted to have another retired gentleman to sit and snooze with. After Charlie sadly died Skye came into his life, an eight week old GSD puppy. He was a little less welcoming to her but they soon got along and in the last weeks of Nino’s life Skye was so gentle with him.
His favourite drink was tea, he would wait for unsuspecting visitors to put their cup at a level he could reach and then potter over and quickly drink it.He could smell a barbeque from miles away and on the odd occasions he disappeared from our garden in the summer he could soon be found by following the scent of cooking sausages to whichever neighbour he had gone to visit.
He loved everyone, and everyone loved him. He was gentle with small children, despite his desire to lick their ears, and came into school with me occasionally to visit the youngest classes.
Recently he developed canine dementia and became very confused, despite a course of tablets his condition worsened and with great sadness we decided that the time had come to let him slip away. He spent the morning sitting in the garden with me, at lunch time he managed to demonstrate his true character one last time by stealing an apple from the coffee table. At the appointed time I put his collar and lead on (he disliked wearing a collar so never wore one in the house) and took him out to the car. He sat quietly on the drive up to the vets but brightened up and barked at the sheep in the field near the vets. Laterly he had become uncomfortable with being lifted up and would try to bite but when we arrived he allowed me to carry him inside and snuggled up in my arms. To help him relax I gave him a spoonful of manuka honey and he went off to sleep calmly.
The house is strangely quiet without him, as my sister said he was a small dog, with great presence who has left a huge absence.