24 May

The weeks, and now months following Smudge’s death brought me a tsunami of emotions. The world expects us to carry on, and that is just what I have been doing, with varying degrees of success. I smile and laugh on the outside but inside, I'm shredded and broken. At various times throughout the day, I'm tearful and I have to stem the flow, ready for the next meeting or visit to the outside world. Sometimes, I feel I will explode with the effort. My eyes are tired and sore with the constant wiping and my heart feels heavy in my chest. There are silly little triggering memories everywhere. If I reach for something Smudge enjoyed eating, a piece of toast, a tea biscuit, or my home-made steak pie that he loved, I lose my appetite. The other day, I went out for the first time in ages to peg out the washing on the line in the garden and I nearly doubled over in pain remembering how excited he got when I picked up the pegs to go outside and he would follow me out to ‘help’. I miss him prancing around the garden, busying himself checking the perimeter, and again, I'm in tears. I stare at the spot on the carpet where Smudge lay, barely able to move, and remember the sadness and defeat in his eyes during the last days, as he silently pleaded with me to do something to make him feel better and my inability to do so. No treats were working their magic anymore and I think we both knew it was nearly time to say goodbye. I wish the happy times were the ones more indelibly carved in my memory but it’s his sadness in his final days that haunts me. 

Immediately after Smudge had gone, I was full of self-recrimination. Why hadn’t I acknowledged that the vet was likely to say it was over? Why hadn’t I taken the morning off and just sat with Smudge until it was time to go? Had I allowed him to suffer more than necessary, selfishly deluding myself that he would prefer as much time with us as possible when actually he longed for sweet release? In answer to the first two questions, I think I was in denial – if I kept to the usual routine, nothing bad would happen and anyway, if the worst came to worst, surely, we could spend one last night together, I told myself. 

The answer to the third question is far more complex. I recoiled at the thought of having the last say on the life or death of another living being, particularly one that I loved so very much. I wanted Smudge to have the longest possible time with us with the minimum of suffering and I could hardly contemplate the thought of going on without him. Dogs want to please us, and in retrospect, I regret that Smudge may have battled on through adversity because he knew how desperate I was for him to stay. In truth, Andrew had said weeks before, that our doggy had probably had his day, but that the decision had to be mine. That's a huge burden to carry, but he was right, and I can’t say how many times I begged for help in coming to a decision; praying to God, to the guardian angels – anyone who I hoped might be listening, because I was incapable of making that call.  I'm not of any orthodox religion or belief, but I do believe that there is more beyond that which we know and see. In the end, I truly believe the answer to my prayers came when the vet refused to give me a repeat prescription without seeing Smudge first. I am ashamed to say it, but I'm glad the decision was taken out of my hands, and I think it was a way of the universe telling me it was time. I like to think in that case, it was neither too early, nor too late. 

I Salute You, Mr Magpie

On Smudge’s last day with us, an hour or so before going to the vet, a single magpie was wandering around the garden. I have always been superstitious of the single magpie, rumoured to bring sorrow, and it’s always been my habit (much to the ridicule of others) to salute them three times, with the accompanying ‘I salute you Mr Magpie’ mantra.  My heart sank with foreboding at seeing this harbinger of misery on this particular day and something told me that this time, saluting wasn’t going to ward off the inevitable. Hope lives eternal and rationality conquers much, but when I saw that magpie, I knew the end was nigh for Smudge.

I can't begin to describe the grief we felt that evening, without our beautiful boy who had given us so much fun and love all those years. Andrew and I sat on the sofa, Smudge’s beloved cushion between us. It was mucky and smelly, but I just wanted to have it next to me. Somehow, I had twisted the corner of it into the shape of a head and the feel of it was like holding Smudge, just as I had done every night with our ‘compulsory’ cuddles. The cushion felt tensile, corporeal, like a furry body that was warm and comforting. After about two hours of holding it, the cushion suddenly became limp and squidgy and it was so noticeable, I exclaimed in shock at the metamorphosis. Andrew, (not normally given to flights of fantasy) said he also felt it slacken. I briefly wondered if Smudge had been around and was still trying to comfort us with his presence. It was certainly weird, although perhaps, not compelling enough to say that Smudge was still with us. Suffice to say, I keep that cushion with me, and it has a new home on our bed! 

Bleak House

The next day, things felt even more bleak and empty, if that was possible. For nearly six months, I had been constantly on the go, tending to Smudge, trying to make him comfortable or working out by elimination what he needed next. Now, it felt as though I had nothing to do and no-one who needed me. I had flashbacks of Smudge, me and Andrew, doing all the routine things and I felt lonely and heartbroken at his loss. I tried to distract myself watching ‘The Masked Singer’ on television, much to the derision of Andrew. Earlier in the day, I had been reading that the appearance of certain birds could signify a lost loved one sending a message. I didn’t pay much attention at first, but the ‘Robin’ character came on to sing his song, which happened to be Ed Sheeran’s, ‘Thinking out Loud’ and I was struck by the opening lines where he muses about a loved one whose legs don’t work any more and the other can’t sweep them off their feet. It was such a lovely song and it struck me as a little bit of synchronicity that a Robin, reputedly one of the messengers for the spirit world might be singing about something that was so apt and close to my heart at that moment. Synchronicity of course, is meaningful coincidence and it made me smile as I wondered if that was a little message from my boy, whose legs had so cruelly defeated him.  Andrew, ever the pragmatist, rolled his eyes and asked if I really thought Smudge had now taken over a national TV station, just to send me a message! OK – tenuous, maybe, but I had been reading about robins bringing messages, and it warmed my heart briefly.

Stranger Things

It wasn’t until the day after that, that the first truly strange thing happened. I was sitting on the bed, drying my hair and Smudge’s cushion was sitting behind me. As I turned round to look at it, I did a double take because I saw, right there in the draping of the pattern, the image of Smudge’s face. I immediately took a photograph of it because it was so uncanny. I showed it to Andrew and my mum who were both astounded by the image I’d captured. I sent it to my son and a couple of friends, who all said words to the effect of OMG, that’s Smudge! Now, I’ve always been interested in the afterlife, I’ve watched every ghost programme around, I’ve been on ghost hunts and I’ve even studied parapsychology on the Edinburgh University Koestler course, and I would call myself a sceptical believer. Sceptical because I know there is most often a rational explanation for things, a believer, because – well – belief is something quite different from science. A belief can never be proved, yet it can be deeply held without evidence. Of course, my head tells me that this was simply a case of pareidolia, the eye recognising something familiar (usually a face) within a certain formation of things, such as the perception of pictures in clouds. But, oh my goodness, again, the absolute synchronicity of it happening and the clarity of the picture that was not only instantly recognisable to me, but to others, was astonishing. Whatever caused the cushion to take on this near impossible pictorial draping (and I have tried to recreate it, without success), I felt instantly comforted and joyous at the thought that maybe, just maybe, Smudge really was trying to say hello. I saved that photograph in my computer folder and named it ‘Smudge Hello’, about which there is more to say later. 

Smudge's Image in the Cushion (Centre Right of Picture)

Rationality is a real bugbear when you want to hold on to the hope of other worldliness. Try as I might to retain the belief that Smudge is still around, logic and scepticism diminishes certainty. The pain and all engulfing sorrow of losing my boy soon returned after his ‘appearance’ in his cushion, and one morning, exactly a week after Smudge's passing, I found myself asking him, in my head, if he was OK and wondering what it was like, where he was. If only, I thought, you could give me another sign, Smudge; one that could truly convince me.

I dragged myself downstairs to my home office, ready to start work, passing Smudge’s basket, which, as yet, I hadn’t had the heart to put away, and turned on both my work computer and my home computer. Anyone who uses Windows and Microsoft will be aware that random pictures appear on the opening screen.  I gasped at the picture on my home computer that was emblazoned with green and golden sunlit fields with a massive rainbow arcing from one side to the other! I know that the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ is often quoted as the destination for pets who have passed over, but it was even more significant to me, as I had written a dedication to Smudge in my new book, “PJ and the Paranormal Pursuers”, in which I said that although he had his sights on the rainbow bridge and he would likely have crossed it by the time of publication, he would be forever loved in this world and the next. 

Smudge's Answer to What's It Like Where you Are?

I took a picture of the screen and excitedly called Andrew in to look at it. Well, as my character, Shuggie, in PJ would say, he fair ripped oot ma’ knittin’ as Andrew’s eyes rolled, with that ‘yes dear’ sort of look and said that Smudge must have taken over Microsoft as well as ITV just to give me a message. Well, he did watch Andrew playing on his computer often enough! I shall leave it to the discerning readers to make up their own minds, but I'm convinced that Smudge didn’t disappoint me!


Just as that single magpie in the garden became fixed in my mind as a portent of disaster, I started to notice another weird thing with those strange birds, whenever I was tearful and sad. On several consecutive days, at different times, I would look out into the garden and see two magpies sitting on a tree in my eyeline. Not only that, but two of them appeared in the tree across from my office window as well. Two for joy, maybe? I started to feel that the birds were being sent by Smudge to assure me that he was happy and still around in some way.   Shortly after that, my son announced that he was getting a Jack Russell puppy and I have to say, the joy of seeing that little bundle of naughtiness (albeit only by Zoom, at that time) was huge. These magpie visits have continued, always at moments when I am in the depths of sadness and my heart is breaking for my beloved fur baby. I now regard them as my ‘spirit animals,’ there to assure me that Smudge continues to watch over us. I still respect that old single magpie, but I have developed a fondness for those spectacular looking birds. 

Dream Weaver

Struggling to cope with the loss of my gorgeous boy, I started looking on Amazon for books about pet grief and came across several of them by Jackie Weaver. Not only did she write about pet grief, but also about her experiences as an animal psychic. She, could, she said, speak to living animals and also to those who had passed on to the next world. A real-life Doctor Doolittle! As I read the reviews further, I realised that she was British, not American, as I had first imagined her to be, and that she was quite well known in celebrity circles. I bought a couple of her books and looked her up on the internet. I was intrigued to discover that she could do telephone or Skype meetings. Well, I couldn’t resist. After reading the books, I decided to give her a try. The worst I could be was disappointed, and who knows, maybe she would have some insight. I have to confess, I was a bit impatient, and it took Jackie about a week to get in touch with me, so I started looking at other animal communicators.  I also discovered a lady called Susie Shiner, who had good reviews. Not only did she do one-to-one consultations, but she was also doing a Zoom clinic in a few days’ time. I booked into that and arranged an individual consultation with her for later. Just the thought that I might get to hear from my beloved boy from either one of these ladies, gave me the strength to keep going. 


The advert on Outlook Sidebar as I was about to speak with Jackie Weaver

As it happened, my first appointment was arranged with Jackie Weaver. It was after a near death experience with cancer that she says, led to the discovery that she could communicate with animals. About ten minutes before the call with Jackie, I was checking my e-mails when the advertising banner down the right-hand side of Outlook, caught my eye. The advert was for a clothing company and one of the pictures was a woman in a sweater, emblazoned with the words, “I’m only talking to my dog today”. I couldn’t help but smile. Smudge taking over Microsoft again? Synchronicity, much?

When Jackie rang, we had a short conversation when she told me about her cancer and the discovery that she could speak to animals using her departed cat, Stan, as a spirit guide. My jaw dropped when she said that she had once been a veterinary nurse in my hometown of Dunfermline and that she had worked at Smudge’s surgery, many years ago. More coincidence! 

In terms of our reading, Jackie gave me quite a lot of information about Smudge’s character and personality that I recognised. There were, however, a couple of particular things that struck a chord that would suggest that she had really tuned into him. She described the fact that his right hind leg wasn’t working. She was spot on. Although all of his legs had become weak, the right hind leg was literally just hanging in his final week. The vet thought this was part of the neurological problem. Jackie said Smudge was homing in on the fact there were so many pictures of him and that I had been doing something with all the photos of “me, me, me.”  This was true. All week, I had been obsessively moving his hundreds of photos into one computer file so that I could choose some for the blog and for framing. It was a marathon job and was taking me days. Smudge then told Jackie that he had met up with ‘Bernie’ and she asked if I knew who that was. Amazingly, I did. Bernie was a black Labrador who had once been my aunt’s. This was one thing that everyone thought quite compelling, as it isn’t a name that’s too common. She said that Smudge called himself a ‘fat podge’. Yes, he had been a bit plump until the last few weeks of life. He liked going in the car, he told her, and was saying the words, ‘where are we going’. Whenever we were all in the car, I would voice his words to say, “Where are we going then, Uncle Andrew?”  Andrew would always give him a response. It was funny because Andrew found Smudge’s ‘voice’ so convincing, he just treated his words as though Smudge was the speaker and always replied as though it was a real conversation with him! 

Smudge then went on to ’tell’ Jackie that there was a big crow type bird in the garden that was significant to me. The magpie! OK, I know it isn’t a crow, but it is a corvid. Smudge remarked on the fact that I had stayed up all night with him on the last night, for which he thanked me. It was true. I had gone to bed upstairs for a while, to get a little advance sleep, and went back down around midnight where I kept a wakeful vigil over my boy, fearing the worst for our visit to the vet on the following day. He went on to say that I thought he was immortal, and, that he kind of is. He told Jackie that he had lost his mojo, but even when he was very ill, he had up and down days. This was also true, and part of the reason that I hesitated so long in making any decision for him. She told me that it was something to do with his breathing that had led to the final decision; it had become very shallow. Again, this was absolutely correct, as described by the vet, due to the anaemia. It could have been for one of any number of reasons, but this was the one pinpointed by the vet that could, at any time, cause Smudge great distress. Jackie described him as having a strong heart, and he was fighting a losing battle, but he had tried; we had all tried. That sums it up exactly. There was nothing quick in Smudge’s deterioration and he fought for his life with determination, as did I. Smudge’s parting words, via Jackie, was that he had the ‘bestest’ life. This struck a chord with me – I had always described him as my bestest boy or my bestest friend. I truly felt that Jackie had connected with Smudge which made me feel a little better.

That's Quite a Shiner!

Just a couple of days later and I’m on a roll with the animal psychic research! If nothing else, it’s occupied my mind and given me hope that perhaps Smudge is living on somewhere else. Next up was Susie Shiner’s Zoom Animal Communication Clinic in which she communicates with animals, living and dead. The cost of £7 is reasonable so if nothing came of it, I wouldn’t have felt hard done by. Susie employs ‘Earth based mystery traditions’ of Druidry and Shamanism to help her connect with animals, and indeed all of nature. She describes herself as a ‘seer’. There were about nine others on the Zoom meeting , some of whom had animals with them, others, like me, who now, had only a photograph of their furry loved one. 

Suzie introduced herself to the  participants in the meeting and I listened without expectation of being chosen for a message.  How wrong I was.  I nearly jumped through the roof when Susie called my name as the first recipient of a message. At Susie's request, I held up Smudge’s picture to the camera and in a few moments, she was off! His first words were that he would give anything to sit on my knee and have me fussing over him again. Susie said that she could feel a pressure on her abdomen as though he was sitting on her. That’s exactly how we had our ‘compulsory cuddles’ when Smudge would lie on my tummy, his face pointing up towards mine and I would ‘fuss’ over him until he decided he’d had enough. Again, Susie picked up on Smudge’s breathing and said it was very shallow and he felt breathless. Just like Jackie, Susie described him as a bit of a ‘roly poly’ (although the photo I used was a young Smudge, lithe and lean). Smudge told her that I had kept him clean and although he didn’t much like it, he would always be grateful. I think this referred to his final weeks, when he would need to go out at odd times, often in the middle of the night, and it would take us an age to come to from sleep, don outdoor clothes on wintry nights and get Smudge out before he had an accident. In the last ten days, he had more and more accidents, unfortunately. Obviously, he had to be sponged down with his doggy shampoo and given clean training pads under him. Susie said that he wanted to give us a big thank you as he had an exciting and joyful life. I think he did, in all honesty, although I’m sure many animals would say the same thing to their humans.

Next, like the ‘Bernie’ message from Jackie, Susie had her showstopper moment. Smudge was showing her lots of pups, like him. Only days before, my son had sent me videos of the litter of pups from which his own new Jack Russell fur baby had been chosen. Smudge approved apparently. I was also astounded when Susie said that she saw me ‘on my knees praying’ about Smudge. I told her that whilst I had never actually got down on my knees (they creak and groan too much for one thing!) I had prayed hard to the Angels, God, my dear departed dad, whoever might listen to me, in asking for help for Smudge in his illness, help to make decisions and in knowing what to do for him. Now, my prayers are to ask them to keep my boy safe and happy, wherever he now is.  Susie said that Smudge heard my prayers for him now and that he loved me very much.  

My turn ended and Susie moved on to others in the meeting with apparently similar success. I wondered what else might be revealed when our one-to-one consultation happened. 

Ashes to Ashes

In between these readings, Smudge’s ashes came back to us. We decided to have an individual cremation and bought him a smart wooden box that now sits on the bookcase in our bedroom, surrounded by flowers, cards, ornaments and the ‘Secret Life of Pets’ Jack Russell, Max. It felt good to have Smudge back in his own home, but it was also an emotional day. Andrew and I went together to the vets to collect him and I felt like a PTSD sufferer as we sat in the carpark, ten days after Smudge’s death, waiting for his ashes and his blanket and coat I’d left on that miserable day. When we got home, I looked at that pitiful little box, Smudge’s puffer jacket and his new Christmas blanket and wept. The sticker on the bag containing his things noted that he had been 7kg on his last day. He’d actually lost nearly 3kg during his illness. Our tears flowed copiously with the realisation that all we had left of Smudge was contained in that precious little wooden box and for the huge loss of our little bestie who has left a crater sized hole in our lives.

Smudge's 'Shrine'

Smudge 'Hello'

I had postponed my full animal communication appointment with Susie, to give a bit of time to allow things to settle and maybe new insights to form. It would be just short of two weeks after the Zoom clinic that I was due to speak with her. Whilst I had felt slightly happier and somewhat comforted by the two readings so, far, the rational mind stepped in again and had me doubting. After all, I guess many generic things could be said of other animals and perhaps much of what was said to me wasn’t so unique, but, I had to acknowledge,  there were some uncanny accuracies from both communicators.

Since Smudge's passing,  I wake up on most days feeling that all the joy has been sucked from me. When I go downstairs where we all slept together for over two years, I'll say good morning to Smudge as it's where I feel his presence most. I always speak to him and still occasionally find myself wishing he would give me an irrefutable sign that he is still around. On one such morning, about four weeks after Smudge had gone, I booted up my work computer ready for the day ahead. Unusually, I didn't switch on my home computer. I do have a habit of checking my personal e-mails throughout the day, but, for whatever reason, I just used my phone on this particular morning. I was about to go and make a cup of tea, so picked up my phone to have a look and see if there was anything interesting in my Inbox and I have to say, my heart did a double spin and a triple salco before landing back with a whoomph in my chest. There was an e-mail entitled ‘Smudge hello’ in my inbox. When I opened it, there was the jpeg photo of Smudge’s cushion with his other worldly face peeking at me. That photo is stored in the pictures section of my personal desktop computer and only on that computer. I don’t use the cloud to store anything. That computer was switched off. The e-mail was sent at 10.48 am that morning and received at 10.48 am sent through from my personal e-mail address as a ‘note to self’, with a subject heading, "Smudge Hello.jpg." Unusually, it said ‘Sent from Mail for Windows 10’. I do sometimes send myself e-mails and I’ve checked all those that I have sent. None of them contain those words. I was working on my day job and did not send any e-mails to myself on the home computer at 10.48, which, again, for emphasis, was switched off and which was the only computer on which that photograph, so named, was stored. OK – I’m not beyond the suggestion that technology might play tricks on us, but if anyone can explain that – answers on a postcard please! Needless to say, I had to smile – Smudge taking over Microsoft again?

Smudge Hello E-mail

Shining Bright

Soon, it was time with my next reading with Susie Shiner,  and I called her at the appointed time. She had lost the photo I sent her of Smudge, and I had to send it again. There’s definitely a ‘thing’ going on with Smudge and photographs!  

Skater Boy

To begin with, there were quite a few general things discussed about Smudge, but I will stick to the headlines from this communication. Susie was somewhat perplexed as Smudge was showing her a picture of him on either a roller skate or a board with wheels, low to the ground and he was being pushed. That was pretty amazing, because after we tried him with a proper wheelchair and he didn’t take to it, Andrew got to work and tried to make Smudge a kind of stabiliser from one of my son’s old skateboards, which he thought might support the right bits. We tried it and pushed him along, but no – he wasn’t having it and did his donkey act, so that was the end of that! 

Smudge then described to Susie being picked up and put down a lot, which he said he did find a bit stressful. That, was of course, by then, the only way of getting him in and out the house to the garden, or anywhere else and yes, I think it did stress him a bit. He also described for Susie a ‘barrier’ around his bed. Again, this was accurate in that Smudge had lost his coordination and often rolled over on his back like a Kafkaesque beetle and couldn’t right himself. This definitely stressed him and so, to keep him upright, and to stop him pushing himself around on the carpet, which could give him carpet burns, we placed him next to the airbed with his big basket, cushions, blankets etc all around him, so that he was supported on all sides and kept him close to us at night. 

The part of the communication that really upset me, was Smudge’s description of how he felt in his last days. He said that he felt ‘twisted’ inside and couldn’t keep his coordination. Indeed, somehow, he managed to contort himself into all sorts of positions and he found it hard to do his business. ‘Twisted’ was a good description. Again, his shallow breathing was a feature of the conversation and a pressure behind his eyes was mentioned. Sometimes, Smudge’s eyes did look a bit prominent, and I wonder now, if the vestibular disease was actually a tumour in his brain. He said to Susie that I had wanted him so badly to feel better, but that he was never going to have the same agility again. He felt the pressure of my longing, he said. This broke me because I would never have wanted Smudge to feel pressure on my behalf. Susie qualified this with him apparently saying that I had given him hope, although he knew he couldn’t remain young and fit forever. He told Susie that he sometimes fell flat on his chin (true) and that his legs were all over the place (by the end, his limbs were in all sorts of odd contortions). She felt a lot of ‘noise’ throughout his limbs, like electricity and this caused him discomfort; his shoulders, neck and hips were very achy (this would be unsurprising, as he also had a habit of stretching his neck upwards and backwards when lifted. The vet commented that this looked like a neurological problem (the same word that Susie used in describing it). 

Strawberry Fields

I was happy to hear from Susie that Smudge didn’t really have much awareness of his last day as he told her he'd felt sick and headachy. This confirmed the vet's feeling that she didn't think he was aware of much that day. Smudge told Susie that he loved strawberries and other berries. This was so true, something that Susie felt was unusual. He would only eat his strawberries with a bit of sugar and cream on them, but he and Andrew also used to share blueberries, a treat that Smudge loved until the later stages of his illness. On the matter of food, he also told her he detested the dog food with gravy (he absolutely did – I always had to buy the pate if he didn’t have some of our dinner) and that the water wasn’t good (a common complaint from dogs apparently – too many chemicals for their taste)!  Smudge always preferred his cup of tea to water. Perhaps that’s because the chemicals were boiled away. 

The pup came up again and Smudge apparently said that we should revel in the fact of his health and fitness and enjoy it and that I was to stop fixating on his last days (which I was, and sadly, still do). After our chat, I did feel again, that some connection had been made with Smudge. There are so many things that can go wrong with our loved ones, and it was quite remarkable the specific detail I was given about Smudge’s illness, disability and final hours. Perhaps it is just all wishful thinking, but if it helps, why not? 

An Explosion of Wonder

I have just one more incident to report. A few days later, I was just working up to getting out of bed to go downstairs and work. I still had my eyes closed but was waiting for the alarm to go off. Seconds later, Andrew (who was still fast asleep) and I sat bolt upright in shock as there was the sound of china exploding and clattering down very loudly. It was still a bit dark, but I knew it had come from the direction of Smudge’s ashes on the bookcase. As far as I could tell from the bed, everything was still in order, but I was totally shocked on closer inspection, to discover that the centre of the vase holding Smudge’s flowers had blown right out, leaving the stems showing and water everywhere. The vase itself had not moved. It was Galway fine bone china. I have no idea whether this is given to spontaneous explosion. I googled it and came up with only one reference that suggested it was possible in fluctuating thermal conditions. It was neither excessively hot or cold in the bedroom, but the vase has been in my possession for a long time and again, the synchronicity of the occurrence happening when it became Smudge’s vase is not lost on me. It was a little more unnerving than the other events, to be honest, and if it was paranormal, it seemed an oddly aggressive act. I wondered if I was perhaps becoming too immersed in all this and maybe encouraging other things.  Perhaps it is time now, to let Smudge rest and  allow my own thoughts to rest. Perhaps it is the energy in me that caused this explosive reaction; often this is an explanation for poltergeist activity.

Spontaneously Exploding China

So, that’s the story so far. All has been quiet, except for the magpies over the last months. 

Two For Joy - The Magpies in the Garden

I still talk to Smudge, I still miss him, I still want to feel him next to me again and oh boy, I still cry him a river. I accept that he’s gone now, and I accept that he needed to go when he did. I know that Smudge had the very best life we could give him, and I know without doubt he had a wonderful time with us. He was a very happy dog. I know that we tried everything possible to help him, to keep him alive and to keep him comfortable but the law of nature says we all go sometime, and we did pretty well to keep him until two months off his seventeenth birthday. The only regret I have is that I probably didn’t read Smudge’s distress or discomfort as well as I thought, given the immediacy of his departure. COVID deterred me from going to the vet as quickly as perhaps I should have done and I continue to beat myself up over his last month, thinking I should have acted earlier. If I had done, I would no doubt have been beating myself up thinking I let him go too soon. It’s a no-win situation. I wish I had known about the animal communicators when he was still here. I might have gained some insight into Smudge’s thoughts and how he was feeling. Instead, I think maybe I saw what I wanted to see and not what I should have seen. I will never, ever, forgive myself for that.

I am thankful for the wonderful years with my boy, and I hope he really does live on elsewhere and is having the 'bestest' time. If I got it wrong at the end, I hope, with all my heart he forgives me. I will never forget you my little Smudge. It was a privilege and a gift to have had you in our lives and I will always love you and miss you.

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