Our ancient dog Brutus had to be put to sleep yesterday. For several days his movements had been severely restricted and for the last 48 hours or so he was unable to get to his feet and spent most of his time sleeping.

Brutus had a life that was divided into two parts. In the first he belonged to a local farmer and, as far as I could tell, was the head of security. He is well qualified since he is a pretty menacing-looking beast, or at least he would have been back in his prime. When I walked my own dogs along the paths through the campo we would often see Brutus through the fence bordering his owner´s land. He would silently look down on us from an elevated grassy bank through his one “good” eye (he had lost sight in his other eye as a result of a collision with a truck which also rendered him deaf). His sentry duties occupied the first part of Brutus´long life and might have lasted about 8 years or so.

And then, quite out of the blue he started showing up at our place. I still don´t know quite how this happened. The first time I noticed him he was walking across the terrace at night. He had set off our own dogs and I went outside to open the gate and see him off. To be honest this was a little scary as I really knew nothing about his temperament. This incident marked the beginning of the second stage of Brutus´life. He began to show up more and more and found a way of settling in with our own dogs. It was only some time later that our son Leo confessed to having thrown food in his direction and, you know what dogs are like; if there´s grub around they will begin to make themselves feel at home.

I went to speak to Brutus´former owner to explain his having “adopted” us and he said that as far as he was concerned that was perfectly okay. He did ask where exactly we lived but he never called over. Instead he would be periodically reunited with the dog when our evening walks coincided with his being in the neighbourhood. On these occasions he would great Brutus warmly and the old dog would recognise the scent of his former owner. The most recent of these meetings occurred maybe 10 days ago. I was walking Brutus down the track at his usual snail´s pace when a van stopped and the farmer got out to great him. He took a photo with his phone and said he wanted to show his wife that the old boy was still going. He noticed the slowness and the thin hind quarters that suggested that any further meetings with this particular animal would be few in number. This one would, in fact, be the last.

Yesterday afternoon I brought the vet out from Coín. At home we all knew it was time. Brutus could not stand any more. He was crippled with arthritis. To his credit, the vet handled things with great sensitivity and the dog didn´t feel a thing.

The feeling we have at home now is a curious mixture of happy and sad. We gave him what we hope may have been his “best” years. Of necessity he was swept into social interactions with our other dogs and the younger ones jumped all over him. He walked each day on our customary early mooring or late evening circuits of the campo which could be shortened or extended according to how much energy he had and to how warm the weather was. He dozed languidly on the terrace like the other dogs during the summer afternoons.

Yesterday I buried him in the mid afternoon close to where our other old dog Bonita had been buried couple of years back. The heat can be punishing at this time of the year and so I tried to work fast. There was no time for fanfare. No one else was around. When his grave had been prepared I returned to the shade where I had left his remains.

His hearse was a wheelbarrow.


Here is a picture Pippa took of Brutus in the spring of 2015.