The dog died – of course she did. What did you expect, a happy ending?

Except I’d argue that it was. Last week, just shy of fifteen, she died overnight in the laundry where she sleeps, in the house where she spent her whole life. After an active day, play fighting with Benji the younger dog, she came in whilst we watched TV in the evening and went round and round in circles on her beanbag and then gone to bed. She just didn’t wake up in the morning.

We’d been lucky with Tui, no surgery, a few trips latterly to the vets but no big expensive ones since my father-in-law Colin tied her up in his garage – next to an open bag of slug pellets. He noticed half way through the bag and rushed her off to the vets.

Colin still claims he taught her to swim and that a few years ago she was the best looking dog in the North Island. Our friend the breeder admits that she gave us a different dog to the one we chose, we got the runt of the litter, well it worked for us.

We’ve had some very nice messages from people who say she’s gone to a better place, even if I wasn’t an atheist I’d doubt that, she didn’t do badly the first time around. We just had the weekend with friends who live in a nobby part of Auckland, their Staffy cross from Mangere definitely won the doggie lottery but Tui was in the prizes.

Benji seems a bit lost, but then except for his six months on farm duty he’s always had Tui with him. He came up and sniffed at her body once during the day, but then stayed back. I dug a hole at the bottom of the garden and we placed her carefully curled up at the base. She looked comfortable enough and then I covered her with lime and she looked like a sculpture.

She was my first ever dog, the family dog that the kids grew up with. I half expected to see her at the gate when I drove home last night. Her nose poking through the gap, hopping from one foot to the other, waiting to be fed.

Good on you Tui – a bloody good dog.

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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