Merkel was my eldest daughter’s favourite dog. She has a large printout of a photo of her proudly walking him (recall whistle around her neck) on her bedroom door. Telling her he had been put to sleep broke my heart a little – and the news naturally made her bury her head in her pillow too. She is sad that his is gone – but accepting that he had got older and weaker, and that sometimes the kinder thing is to say goodbye before a loved pet suffers.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware, Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
The Power of the Dog - Kipling
It is often said that alongside health benefits, such as reducing allergies and stress and increasing time spent outdoors, pets offer children the opportunity to learn about responsibility and nurturing – and ultimately about loss too. These lessons are life skills that will prove invaluable as they grow older. But Merkel taught my girls so much more than that. He taught them to be generous with both enthusiasm and love – and for that alone, he will always be cherished.
Rest in peace you fine old man.