13 December 2003

Milnthorpe: Gyp into the Sunset Years
For the next decade I spent a good part of my time away from home, first at South Shields Marine and Technical College and then following my profession coming home during holidays and leave. Gyp would always greet me with his usual wag of his tail and a fuss.

When on leave I often used to be at a loose end during the day, old friends were busy working during the week. I sometimes used to go down the fields of Kidside Farm and have a look at my old haunts. Gyp would be overjoyed when he realized were we were going. One day walking along the banks of the Stainton Stream I heard a splash, Gyp heard it too and we went to investigate. There swimming slowly at an angle across the stream was an otter, this long sleek animal was a lovely graceful sight. Gyp was exited, to him it was prey to be hunted but I commanded him to stay but he couldn't help himself but to edge forward and I again said “no” to him. As I've said previously Lakeland terriers were bred to hunt and Gyp was no exception, the urge to hunt had been bred into him.

As the years passed, on one of my periodic visits home to Kidside I noticed Gyp seemed to spend more time around home, not going out as much with Dad down to the gardens or on his periodic wanderings around the countryside as he used to. I started to notice a touch of grey around his jaw line; he was starting to age a little. I mentioned the fact in conversation with Mum and Dad and they told me he seemed to be a little stiff in the mornings too and used to drink more frequently from his water bowl. They said it would be his kidneys starting to fail him, he was past 10 years old and it was to be expected.

It must have been in the year 1958-59 or thereabouts, Pat said it was before our marriage in 1960. Mum had Dad had gone down to Morecambe for their annual holiday and I was living at home alone. One morning I got up, it must have been Saturday to find Gyp lying on his side raising his head to look at me. He was very obviously sick, I offered him a drink of water, which he sipped and lay down on his side again. Things are a little hazy from now on but I must have contacted a vet and I next remember finding myself in a vet's waiting room, the one who was down Stricklandgate in Kendal, with other people and sick animals.

Our turn came and I carried Gyp into the surgery, the vet asked me the usual questions and then examined Gyp. After a short while he returned to his desk and told me Gyp was in a bad way, he had kidney failure and there was nothing he could do for him long term. He paused and continuing said to me that the kindest thing to do for Gyp was to put him down. Sensing my indecision as I told him my parents were on holiday he said to think it over for a few minutes and he went away to tidy up. Returning he must have noticed my intense distress and he suggested that he would be more than willing to look after everything and I could leave by a side door opening to an alleyway. I said goodbye to Gyp and left him in the hands of the vet. In the alleyway I remember leaning against the wall for sometime as I gained control and tided myself up. I didn’t tell anyone except Pat that Gyp had to be put down until my parents returned home and I had broke the sad news to them. They listened quietly as I told them the story of Gyp, the house was a quiet place for quite a while afterwards, and they probably missed him even more than I did.

I sometimes, even now think of Gyp, that cheerful small dog and wish now that I taken him home to Kidside and buried him in the garden.

But then in those days we weren't supposed to get sentimental over animals as we sometimes do now. It was only an animal we were told

During our 2003 visit to the UK we visited Kidside Cottage and as I looked over the hedge to the garden gate and where the compost heap still was and thought that undisturbed place in the corner would have been ideal to inter Gyp.

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