Goodbye Basil

This has been a tough one, and I write most of this with tears in my eyes, as this week we had to say goodbye to our little superstar Basil. Please excuse this indulgent post, but I need to share the impact Basil has had on my life, and feel he deserves his story telling.

6 years ago Kim phoned me to say they had a little 8 year old wire fox terrier into the vets who’s owners wanted to put him down. At the time basil was shut-down, and to some degree a bit of a problem dog. Kim saw through this behaviour tho and knew there was a good soul in there. So as is the way, a day or so later Basil moved in.

I loved him immediately. A feisty little man, but at the time very very aloof. Wouldn’t make eye contact, did what he wanted and interacted with nobody.

Our first job was to ensure a happy integration with Dexter the cat and Hugo the dog. Dexter saw to the hierarchy by hitting Basil in the face half a dozen when they first met, and they had little to do with each other for the next 6 years!

Hugo was more passive and Basil spent the first week mounting him. Which for a terrier a quarter of the size of Hugo was impressive ambition. Basil eventually realised Hugo was not interested in fighting for “top dog” and that it wasn’t that type of household!

With us Basil would accept the odd stroke, but simple saw us as a point of food supply and little more. But over time he started to open up. From sleeping in other rooms, to sleeping in the room we were in, to moving the under our feet, and eventually on our laps on the sofa. He started to actually look at us, sniff, and give affectionate licks.

At the same time you could see clear changes in his behaviour. His barking reduced significantly, he started to play and have fun. He also went from being a dog who had never ever been off the lead, to with a bit of training, a dog who would go on walks for hours completely off the lead that we had complete confidence in. We soon had a dog clearly loving life, and also benefited from the company of his big brother from another mother – Hugo.

Hugo would never have voted for Basil joining us, and I’d never have described them as best friends, but he tolerated Basil, and played a big part in giving Basil a second lease of life.

One of Basils biggest contributions was when he stepped up and became a PAT dog.  For 4 years he gave the residents of Knightsbridge care home weekly visits and won many fans in doing so. He also gave me a new perspective on life by doing this. We can so easily just think of the elderly as old people, when in fact they were once like you or I. They were teenagers, had careers, they were new parents, and most of all – pet owners. It was a wonderful experience to be able to give them the unique feeing that only being with a dog can give.

Due to ill health Basil reluctantly retired from PAT duty earlier this year, and I have missed it terribly. I hope to get Hugo qualified in the new year to carry on Basil’s legacy.

For 6 years Basil has been our little shadow. Under your feet whenever cooking, right behind you as you panic on a walk thinking you’ve lost him, and always first in the queue on take-away nights wanting a prawn cracker or popadom.

He even perfectly accepted the arrival of Milo, being an angel when Milo was a baby, and tolerating the boisterous toddler, to the point that Milo would always refer to Basil as “my dog”. Seeing Milo walking Basil on the lead is a memory I will treasure.

The last 12 months have been a bit of a challenge for poor Basil, with his failing liver leading to accidents in the house and a nearly constant need to drink water. But he was still a happy chap, and by Kim taking him to work so he wasn’t left at home, meant he was still enjoying his days.

Even though we knew this time was inevitable, the grief is no less. The house feels empty without him.

In time we will take great conciliation in the life he enjoyed with us, and putting the gallery below together has given me a lot of joy, despite being viewed through tears.

We are a better family for knowing Basil, and will forever treasure our time together.

You can teach old dogs new tricks. And those old dogs can also teach us a thing or two as well.

In writing this I have been very restrained, as honestly, to write the extent of how I feel is too much to bear, and my coping mechanism is to compartmentalise and move on. But I have just read what my wife has posted on facebook and it has broken me. It captures Basil’s magic perfectly. A little star that only the two of us truly knew. I will paste it below.


Posted by Lee Hawley