by Matthew Wilson
My dog is from an RSPCA Rescue Centre, and was 'about 5' and a stray when I got him with my first wife. We're since divorced but the dog stayed with me! My new wife loves him very much! I called him Austin. The RSPCA called him Healey (due to his bushy eyebrows making him look like Dennis Healey - a politician from the 70s and 80s) and there was no way my dog was being named after a politician, so we kept the Healey part and put Austin at the start, like the car! Now, though, there is a rugby player called Austin Healey - so you can take your pick!
He's a petite Lurcher (that is to say he was probably the runt of the litter), and has many traits that just make him so unique, and 'my dog'!
His back legs are slightly bowed. He doesn't bark much (he can do, just chooses not to bother with it), he's always been lazy and lounges around the settees all day (or at least when I've been working and come home he is still on the sofa!). He's a long haired black, grey, white and tan coloured dog, but now in his 15th year (as the RSPCA didn't know for sure how old he was when we got him we don't know for sure, but we say 15) he has more grey around the muzzle, and is definately slowing down.
He still wants to go out for walks, but gets tired after a walk to the end of the cul-de-sac! So I just let him wander around our garden. I may walk him the 350 metres to my parents house, but he's generally tired when he gets there (bless him).
When my second wife first moved in with me he was good to her and obviously welcomed her into the house! This probably had more to do with the treats she kept giving him. He never became overweight though (thankfully), and now he's older it is much harder to find in town senior dog treats.
Also when my second wife joined me she brought her elderly cat (he's aboout 11). Now my dog always used to chase cats, and I was worried about how they would get on. Thankfully they got on fine. There was a bit of hissing from the cat when we first introduced them, but after that they seemed to get on fine. We have even found them sleeping on the sofa next to each other! They sometimes have a 'kiss' too (I know they are just sniffing each others face and in Austin's case he's probably trying to lick the cat food off his furry friend's face!)
Now though, he's very much slowing down. His back legs are much stiffer and sometimes he can't settle. Although he's going to the Vet's tomorrow for a check up I think he's in pain with arthritis, and can't understand why he's in pain. At least he can lie on the sofas and get comfortable!
I have many fond memories of my oldest friend! He's in his twilight years now and I hope I can do what's best for him. Making THAT decision (if needs be) will be the hardest decision of all, and will break my heart.