Because of its sudden and aggressive nature I have written much about Banger being run over, and the resulting amputation. But little about our beautiful girl, Olympia.
Ten years ago Felix’s Godmother ambushed us with the idea of giving him one of her Flat Coat Retriever puppies.
“Absolutely not,” I said, “we have plenty of stray dogs on the island that need adopting, quite apart from the thought of a retriever having to wear a black fur coat in the tropics. She was designed for a grouse moor.”
“But her father belongs to Sting, so she would sing really well if she could,” Said Anna, which made no sense at all so of course I agreed.
A few weeks later at a fancy dinner I bumped into Sting and Trudie.
“I have one of your puppies coming out to live with us in the Bahamas.”
“What puppies?” they asked, confused.
“Do you not have a flat coat retriever?”
“Yes but we certainly don’t have puppies.”
It materialized one of their staff was selling off well-bred dog sperm.
Celebrity dog sperm.
Olympia survived her transatlantic journey from London to Miami much better than her seven year old master, who had caught some gastric illness and violently threw up for the nine hour flight, over the seat, over himself and much more unforgivably, over his mother. So dehydrated and exhausted was the child, that upon arrival into Miami we removed his screaming baby brother from the push chair and squashed Felix into his place, on top of whom we sat the confused jet-lagged puppy, as we dragged our mountains of luggage onto the small connecting plane out to the islands.
Olympia adapted fairly quickly to island life, lying under swaying palm fronds, fishing in turquoise waters, jogging each evening on the pink sand.
She gave us many years and much love.
But this Autumn she developed an alarming tumor on her chest, and then another on her neck. We flew her to Nassau. The vet said there was little they could do. She came home again. Then her tongue began to bleed. She would flick her head from side to side clearing her mouth and blood would splatter around the room, covering curtains and cushions, floors and walls.
I called Felix, away at school, to explain her time was running out. He asked if she would wait for him, till he was home for half term. I did not think she could.
One morning Olympia began chocking on her own blood. We called Rosie, a dear island friend, and someone who could be relied on to put an animal out of its misery.
But as I hung up the phone Olympia stopped bleeding. By the afternoon she was walking on the beach and by supper she was eating again.
Olympia waited for Felix to come home. Two nights later she climbed the stairs to my bedroom for the last time. By the next day she was paralyzed from the waist down.
It is not easy deciding when to take life away. What hour do you pick for a date with death?
Rosie agreed to come in the evening so we could have one last full day with our sweet girl. Top Banana fed her freshly cooked sausages for lunch and my children took it in turns to sit beside her whilst we waited. David organized a grave beside the others who had gone before her. I whittled a head stone. Wearing onion goggles.
As the sun was setting over the bay and lizards skittled across the warm courtyard Felix held his dog’s head, and we held one another as a family, and our girl went to sleep for the last time.