Yesterday. What a tough day. Thank you for all your kind words. Meant a lot to the family. Dolly was with us for close to thirteen years. Before her, for twelve years, we had a Golden called Buddy. All our dogs are named after Country and Western stars. When Buddy died I claimed ‘no more dogs’. Too sad losing them. However, we’ve always had dogs. I visited Wendy the breeder, just to see ‘who was coming up’. At my feet a fat little puppy appeared, looking up with the tail wagging furiously. Wendy said ‘well there is this little girl. So happy, look at the tail, it never stops.’ She was right. It wasn’t the time for us to get a dog yet soon we were both in the car heading home. For the next twelve years that tail didn’t stop. Through all the things a family goes through, Dolly was the happy centre. Everyone was welcomed when they walked in, generally with a tiny lick on the hand. Of course, the shopping bags needed to be sniffed just to check on tonight’s menu. She patiently watched as we packed for the trip to Patonga. Raced to the car. After a quick plonk in the water, Dolly was first in the boat and first out. Better go check on neighbour Bill to see if he has a biscuit. ‘Don’t feed her Bill. She’s getting fat!’ Always at the end of the wharf to welcome you home with a bark (why didn’t you take me?), a wag and a lick. Watching us all swim in the creek to make sure we didn’t drown. Would join us if she thought we were. At wine o’clock the family would sit around with Dolly and Milo the cat as we shared the cheese and biscuits. Dolly would put her paw out as a reminder it was her turn for a biscuit. Getting into the kitchen was tricky as Dolly would lie across the entrance. ‘Will you move?’ Didn’t budge. She needed to be close to the action in case a bit of chicken hit the deck. Over the last few years we noticed her back legs were stiffening as arthritis appeared. Injections helped yet nothing would stop the tail. In the last six months one thing led to another until she had a shopping list of ailments. I was happy to carry her up the stairs. We’d all go on long slow walks. Nothing mattered as long as she was there. The night before last her breathing was laboured as she struggled to hold down food. Those beautiful brown eyes were listless. Her tail tapped gently. We called Billy, who’s working in Canberra. ‘It’s time’ he agreed, ‘just stay close to her’. The next morning we lifted her in the car for the last trip. In an odd touch of fate, Van Morrison came on the radio singing ‘Astral Weeks’. “Lay me down..to be born again.” Van the Man always turns up in our lives at these moments. Time passed in a blur and she was gone peacefully. The tail had stopped forever. All we had left was a clip of blond hair, her paw prints in yellow on a piece of paper and a million great memories. Amidst immense sadness Basia, Milly and I went to the club and had a glass of champagne. We are Rendalls after all. Looking through the photos brought tears and some laughs. Did we act too soon? ‘No Dad we didn’t, she was very sick. Maybe another few days? No Dad, that’s for you, not her.’ Dolly has gone. We sometimes hear her around the house. Must be the wind. Will we recover? Never entirely, yet life moves on. There is one thing for certain. I’ll never get another dog.