Castro-Castalia Bullmastiffs

Ankara, The dignity of a Goodbye, Castro-Castalia Bullmastiffs
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Christina de Lima-Netto y Ankara de Castro-Castalia Bullmastiffs

Ankara y Chris

The hardest, the toughest part of sharing my life with my dear Bullmastiffs, comes when they have to part, and this unfortunately happens only too often. Menander said long ago that “those whom the gods love, will die too early” and it sure is true when it comes to our beloved dogs, whom for perfectly natural and physiological reasons will have a much shorter live than ours, and will go from our side to soon, always too soon…

I should maybe be used by now to this, since I have been around dogs all my life and yet I still cannot easily cope with their loss; the first time I buried a pet was back in Estoril some forty-five years ago, and I did it under his favourite tree, from which he got a nice cool shadow during summer. No matter what, in all these years all I have been able to learn is to try to accept the fact that at some point, any of my furry friends will maybe look at me with a certain stare, asking me to let him go, without uselessly prolonging his suffering and our anguish.

Ankara, The dignity of a Goodbye, Castro-Castalia Bullmastiffs

Not so long ago, my good old “Ankara”, with whom I have shared so many things, decided it was about time for her to part; she felt she didn’t want to go through another freezing winter. It was a specially grew rainy day and instead of being in her favourite couch, she opted to stay out in the garden and hide under the dense foliage of the trees that hid the fence, probably trying to go unnoticed and let her old self die without bothering anyone.

Just a few days before we had both been at the Vet for her routine check-up and although she was already over eleven years old and had been massively poisoned some years before, nothing anticipated that she was going to get ill. The blood tests were excellent and so where the x-rays and the electrocardiogram… an yet, that chilly Thursday of late November “Ankara” decided it was about time to go.

Ankara, The dignity of a Goodbye, Castro-Castalia Bullmastiffs

I can’t really say how did I become aware of this, but when I returned from a trip to the city and I found her half buried in that hole she had dug under the trees, I simply understood as she looked softly into my eyes.

I immediately had my mind crowded with stories of American Indians who, once they feel their time has come, will part from the rest of the tribe and search for a quiet place in which they let themselves die. And I knew. I knew she had decided the time had come for her.

Just a few minutes later we were both on our way to the Vet Clinic. “Ankara” was totally relaxed, quite, breathing calmly and she put her big head on my knee, like she always had and never ever sighed during those dramatic forty-five minutes ride. My mind was running fast and I could picture so many special moments spent with her for well over a decade; how she had been born and her special scent, when she was still wet in my hand… how she whelped her first pups with a never ending wagging tail while I kept saying “push, Ankara, push” and how she looked at me as if she understood, while pushing her babies out one by one…

“Ankara” feeling terribly ill after having been massively poisoned by a neighbour, sleeping by my side and I by hers, while the two were fighting for her life… until we succeeded after twenty-one days of anguish and fear… “Ankara”, good old “Ankara”, who had become so special after the years and who had become such and important part of my life… and then, “Ankara” who was brave enough to understand she had lived for long and it was time to go, while she still had the strength to do it with dignity and honour.

As we were approaching the Clinic, while she still had her head on my knee, I had tears running all over my face and could hardly drive.  Jota and Patty knew only too well that if I had called them that purpose, there certainly was a good reason… and as we got there and they say her enter the room in silence, but still wagging her tail and with such a determination, they too had tears in their eyes and sighed.  We placed her in the surgery table, with her favourite wool blanket underneath (the one I had often used with her from the time she’d been born and in which she had whelped some of her babies) and she let Jota do, while showing absolutely relaxed and comfortable. I couldn’t but pet her, hug her and kiss her in the meantime.

A fast but exhaustive exam confirmed what I already knew. She was already saying goodbye and totally collapsed. Her heart had almost no beat, and the veins had become tiny little threads, to the point that the Vet chose to puncture straight into the heart, her big loving heart, and in just a few seconds she languished for ever under my kisses.

And while I was saying goo dbye to her, holding her tight in my arms and capturing that special sugary scent of her that I knew I was going to miss so much (and I do!), I couldn’t but remember the very words of Espronceda, one of the finest Spanish poets, who once said. “Again, you angel, are back in Heaven”.

(*) This is a literal translation of the Foreword I wrote for my book “ULTIMOS AÑOS DE MI PERRO”, two months after “Ankara’s” loss. May it be the tribute I pay to all the Bullmastiffs that have been with me for these past years and who are not there anymore, Khalim, Garufa, Ankara, Pippi, Pulga, Sarah, Koira, Guirigay, Karamba, Vendetta, Darwin, Curro, Tirana, Merlin, Tequila, my two Yorkies Chino and Chips, Jack, the old Labrador rescued from the snow, and the two kitties Piccolina and Murphy.

(Original text written by Christina of Lima-Netto and Federico Baudin specifically for this web page and protected with Copyright. Not even whole can be reproduced not partially by any way, without Castro-Castalia's express assent in writing).

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