Saying Goodbye to Hugo

Hugo celebrating Yom Hatzmaut

Hugo was 2 years old when he came to live with us.

He spent the first 2 years of his life as a show dog.  He soon grew too big to show or breed. That’s when we stepped in and gave him a new forever home.

Hugo is 9 now, so he’s been with us for just over 7 years. My husband and children had always been uneasy around dogs, which was one of the reasons why we adopted Hugo. Another more important reason for getting Hugo was to aid my husband’s recovery after he had suffered a severe depressive episode. In a bid to aid this recovery, I decided that having a dog around would be beneficial as studies have shown that dogs can help enormously with such problems.

When I was a child we always had cocker spaniels and I knew very little about any other breeds. With that in mind, my search for the perfect dog always took me back to my beloved spaniel. I thought that a puppy would be too much of a challenge in the circumstances with all the necessary training. As luck would have it, I contacted Michelle, a spaniel breeder just as she was looking for a new home for Hugo. It was fate.

My husband was very resistant at first. As he was just getting over a severe illness, the last thing he wanted was a dog. He protested that he would have nothing to do with him. That didn’t last long.

Hugo is a good boy; very friendly and obedient and no trouble at all. He soon became a loyal companion to my husband. When I was at work, they’d walk together in Heaton Park, often accompanied by a little shitzu called Mitzi, Hugo’s girlfriend.

Although my husband may not have realised it at the time, having Hugo around helped his recovery enormously. His calm demeanour and good nature clearly had a positive effect on him.

It wasn’t only my husband who grew to love Hugo, but my children grew to love him too. In fact, Hugo’s presence instilled a general love of dogs in us all. Hugo was soon joined by 2 more furry siblings, Woody, a Jack Russell and Bella, a chihuahua. Although it took time for them all to get used to each other, they’re now all firm friends.

Hugo has been through a lot with us…he was there at the start of my husband’s illness and helped us all through that horrible time. He made aliyah (came to live in Israel) with us and has enjoyed countless walks on the beach. He’s not too keen on the heat, but that hasn’t stopped him being his loveable self.

Hugo has been my shadow for the past 7 years. He’s been with me through thick and thin, through all of my ups and downs. He sleeps on the floor beside my bed and follows me whenever I go, even to the loo in the middle of the night. He’s even lying next to me now, as I write this.

Hugo has never been particularly sprightly. Even though he loved his walks, he’s always been happiest lounging around or sitting on my knee. Over the last few weeks however, he’s really started to slow down. We didn’t notice it at first. The vet found a lump and told us to keep an eye on it. The lump got bigger. This evening we were told that Hugo has a very aggressive form of cancer and that nothing could be done for him. He probably only has 2 weeks left to live. He isn’t suffering at the moment and we’ve been told what to look out for to ensure that he doesn’t suffer. We’ll know when the time has come to say goodbye.

I can’t imagine life without Hugo. I can’t imagine waking in the night and not seeing his big, daft face.

All I can do is try and make his last days as happy as possible.

We will all miss him terribly.

About the Author
I’m a British lawyer from Manchester. I made aliyah in 2016 and now live in Netanya with my husband, 3 children and 3 dogs. As I wasn’t able to pursue my legal career here in Israel, I started a small business editing English language papers for academics. I also write short stories or ‘blogs’ about the trials and tribulations of my new life.
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