I have just been walking in the gardens of Astley-Ainslie hospital along the end of our road. At the edge of one of the lawns, under a tree, are gravestones commemorating dogs that have, presumably, "belonged to" certain members of staff-though the one remembering Sambo makes me wonder whether Harry and Barbara Acton, who lived not far away, had their Welsh spaniel interred there. The earliest date is on the grave of Dum-Dum, who died on August 25 1900. The most recent date is on the grave of Pax, who died on July 27 2008. The stone is new and was probably put in position a few weeks ago on the anniversary of his or her death. I also walked today along the "donkey track" on Blackford Hill where someone has fixed to a section of exposed igneous rock a wee brass plate on which is written:
"In loving memory of Rex & Moss
& Polly & Cleo,
Fower dugs tae whom
This hill belanged a'
The days o' thir lives."
In the garden and on the hill I thought of the dogs named at these two sacred places, but I also thought of Buddy. And I thought of him too when I was back home in our own garden where the horse-chestnut leaves will soon be falling on the grave of our German Shepherd Dog Jacky. Margaret and I were granted the gift of burying him. If you are denied that with Buddy, you must invent something that will not only help you, as Margaret was helped by writing a book about our life with Jacky, the last chapter of which is also the last chapter of my attachment (blessed word). We are sending an extra donation to Compassion in World Farming in support of the campaign to ensure that male dairy calves have a life worth living. We are doing it in memory of Buddy. You, David, through your writings and other actions on behalf of
animals, have already put into practice Gavin Maxwell's maxim "Whatever joy she gave to you, give back to nature." But if you thought of a way of commemorating and celebrating the life of Buddy in particular (like planting a special tree?), your friends and his over there and over here would be grateful for the opportunity to contribute to whatever that might cost.
But I refuse to give up all hope yet that he will find his way back home. Meanwhile, for sending those lovely photographs of him and for him and his "owner" we are
John and Margaret