Whilst Claude was not overly fond of his younger canine brother, and would spit, hiss and get his heckles up, should Whippet Boy intrude into his domain, Whippet Boy was eternally patient and tolerant, never once chasing him or challenging his authority.
I brought Whippet Boy into our lives at a time and place, where I was ready to embrace the company and demands of a dog.
I did have some reservations, the main one being, how would my elderly cat cope with having a young dog, wanting to share my attention?
At first Claude was not happy, and retreated to our bedroom, refusing to come out even to eat. Over the course of some weeks and with the help of a couple of drops of "rescue remedy' on his food every day, Claude slowly realised I loved him as much as ever. He returned to occupying the entire house.
Meanwhile, Whippet Boy continued his best to win Claude over, but especially loved to sneak in and steal Claude's food, along with any stray shoes of mine at any available opportunity.
The two declared a kind of truce with each other,
However, as Claude's health declined, Whippet Boy and Claude began to willingly share the same space. Whippet Boy clearly knew both Claude and I were suffering, as our time together drew to a close.
During Claude's final three days of life, Whippet Boy's behaviour was exemplary and mellow. I sent him outside when our vet arrived to assist Claude in his final passage from life, then went for brunch with a friend, for a kind of celebratory wake, for such a special and divine pussycat.
Earlier we cleared away Claude's litter tray and food and water bowls, so I would not have to face the task alone later.
Arriving home, Whippet Boy came straight to my side and snuggled up. When he snuck into the front part of the house usually reserved for Claude, he was perplexed by the lack of his food bowl and went looking for his older brother all over the house. He continued to look for him for many more days. Indeed, only today did I notice Whippet Boy no longer went straight to the place in the kitchen where I fed Claude, then up to check out his favourite snuggle spots afterwards.
Whippet boy continues to comfort me, doing his best, not just to be a dog, but also to assume some of the smoochy roles he once observed in Claude.He has come very close to purring in my lap, I swear.
Whippet Boy has kept me going through the loss of Claude and I think we have been an enormous comfort to each other. It was very clear he was missing and grieving Claude too. He was at least as despondant as I was for a while!
On the weekend I thanked a dear friend who advised me some time ago, to bring in a younger pet before I lost Mr Claude. Certainly, having Whippet Boy at my side and keeping to his routine has made Claude's death a little easier. It's not that I don't miss Claude. I do. But where there would have been a hole the size of a quarry after Claude's passing, there is instead just a cat sized hole for Claude. My world has not stopped. The part of my heart that is reserved for the love of my pets is still partially filled. If it were not so, I think I would struggle with keeping going at all.
As It is darling Whippet Boy remains at my side. Not Claude, of course, but a wonderful animal presence in his own right.
In time I will bring another moggy into our lives, but for now, it is enough, that Whippet Boy and I have each other!