The first of these two sketches is of the seven dogs which lived at my family home from 1992 to now. The black cocker spaniel in the background turned aggressive when there was only her and the black and white cocker left, so the black had to be rehomed where she would live with no other dogs. The black and white is the only dog still alive and living at home; she’s 13 years old now, with a level 4 heart murmur and a cough that has plagued her for the last three years. The orange roan to the left of the picture became blind overnight, but continued to have a happy life for another seven years, but she, the blue roan to the right, and the second black and white cocker in the middle all died within six months of each other. At that time, the two boys in the middle – a border colly cross and a springer spaniel – had both been dead for several years; like the three girl cockers, the two boys died within months of one another. This picture puts them all together, and if I was spiritual-minded or given to wishful thinking (which I’m not), then I would say they can all be happy together in some sort of doggy paradise. Some people, like my mum, can take a little comfort in that.
The second sketch is the only cartoon I’ve ever done. It’s of the two cats I lived with for five years of my life in Germany. The red boy is wearing a cape and a crown because he always thought he was the king. The tri-colour girl always liked to stretch out on the ground, whether she was playing or resting or sleeping. Also in the picture is a tweety bird that used to sing in the trees beyond our balcony, a banana plant we used to have in our living room, and a ‘photo’ of a frog, which I’d rather not explain here. Though I said a permanent goodbye to the cats three and a half years ago (see my poem You Don’t Know I’m Leaving), they are both still alive.