We are coming to the end of twelve months in which we have ridden an emotional roller-coasting and this week we hit another dip and sharp turn as we sadly bade farewell to our canine companion Fudge who, to coin an obituary cliché, finally slipped away ‘after a short illness’. It was Mrs B’s sad duty to take her to the vets where the decision was made to put Fudgey out of her misery and bring to an end a long, adventurous life.
Fudge had started her journey to us when she was abandoned in a carrier bag outside a Dublin supermarket with her brothers and sisters. After being passed through a couple of rescue centres she eventually took up residence with us while her sister (Truffle) moved in with my parents next door. Over the subsequent fifteen years Fudgey-Dog was a willing playmate, constant walking companion, lap dog and occasional rabbit catcher for our family.
I asked Josh and Verity for their most vivid memories of her and their strongest memories were of a dog who never tired of playing and jumping. They spent long blissful hours in the garden building jump courses for her which she would race through with glee. Fudge loved to take on any type of obstacle and like a mad freerunner no wall or tree was too high to her. She once scaled a sheer twelve-foot wall in a West London park as we looked, powerless, fearing she would fall over the other side. And at home she once chased a cat up the Walnut tree in the Old Garden, reaching the lower branches ten feet up before deciding to bail out.
She did receive encouragement from her young playmates in getting on top of things, leaping onto hay bales for photo shoots or – with Josh as main instigator – being placed on the desk in the study. As Josh says “She was so confused and excited all at once: she knew when we were breaking the rules”.
Breaking the Rules was part and parcel of Fudge’s ‘raison d’être’. With Truffle taking the lead she had an ally who was always keen to escape and go on long rambles by themselves, often coming back in the early hours of the morning. Depending on the crops they traversed Fudge would either return looking like a punch drunk boxer (maize fields) or a masked pirate (from ripe cereal crops).
The sisters had quickly made a name for themselves at puppy training classes where my mother and I took them. When the instructor wanted to run an outdoor session, we warned her our dogs might not stick around too long. But with a cattle grid covering the entrance she thought it would be fine. Ten seconds later “they’re idiots!” was her unprofessional judgement as two ginger puppies streaked straight across the iron bars and down the lane.
At home I used a different soubriquet when I walked into the kitchen one day to discover they had reduced their bean bag beds to shreds of blue denim amid drifting dunes of polystyrene granules. “Fuckwits!” was all I could exclaim at the slightly bemused puppies.
Fudge’s aptitude for naughtiness and deception included taking food whenever she had the opportunity. She was fully aware that food was not to be taken off tables, but when the grown ups have left some tasty bruschetta and other antipasto on the coffee table while they greet their guests who’s going to notice if a small ginger dog helps herself to most of the hand-assembled delicacies?!
Likewise the major part of Verity’s Christmas Toblerone was too much of a temptation when no one was looking. The toxic nature of chocolate to dogs was shrugged of by Fudge’s cast iron constitution. The canine consumption of her Christmas treat was not so easily borne by VB who commemorated the incident with the football-style chant
“You’re fat, you’ve grown, you ate my Toblerone, you Fudgey Dog, you Fudgey Dog…”
When Mrs B sprained an ankle badly while picking blackberries Fudge, rather than run for help in the style of Lassie, simply troughed all the blackberries that Mrs B had dropped as she lay helpless on the ground.
In the fight or flight debate, Fudge was in the latter camp. Never more so than with electric fencing. When her cold wet nose touched some in the garden, she yelped all the way back into the house and would not walk on the lawn for a week, not even trusting the grass.
She got over that but other hang ups stayed with her most of her life. She despised four-by-fours after she saw her sister knocked over by one. (Truffle – remarkably – survived uninjured from the incident). Thereafter, Fudge would growl and bark at anything that remotely resembled a Chelsea Tractor. Not a bad sentiment I felt.
She also, for a while, seemed to have a problem with Black Dogs, barking at them but not other colours. But any hints of racism were quelled when we got our own Black Dog (Ella) and Fudge realised that they weren’t so bad after all….although it took her a good few weeks of therapy to accept the young foreign interloper.
Ultimately our loveable rogue was a wonderful little chum. She had some adorable habits such as being a wonderful lap dog / snoozing companion for Mrs B, particularly during chemo. VB also recalls how Fudge had her own little room in the tent when we went camping and Fudge was very happy with that arrangement (when not growling at trucks and black labs).
For a dog that was constantly on the hunt for food of any sort and trying to get out to the open fields (and main roads) that surround us, she lived a charmed and remarkably healthy, injury-free life. Even in her latter years she was still able to show the earth-bound Ella how a real dog leaps into the back of a car. So when she was taken ill last Friday and gradually got worse over the weekend it was clear something was seriously wrong.
She was brave to the end and has been laid to rest in the front garden, where the last rays of the setting sun illuminated her final resting place. It seemed only fair that she should be outside the confines of her backyard prison. She should be free at last.
She was the most brilliant companion for us all. She was quirky, characterful and funny and we will all miss her.
As the kids today would say: she was a Legend.