A love letter to my dog Lucy, upon her untimely (and highly suspicious, Tilly!!!) death

When I picked you from the dog rescue website, Lucy, you didn’t look like much of a dog. You were scared, tired, and desperate for a cuddle with someone who loved you. You became whatever I wanted you to be, until you finally found your calling as a gentle little lion when you finally blossomed with confidence and security. That it took eight years for you to finally relax breaks my heart, but oh how it was worth every moment.

You were, by turns: a mouse, a rat, a teddy bear, a refined Southern belle (this will only ever be understood by those who lived with your prancing, and your total decorum under any circumstances – even the Great Bone Wars of 2013–14), a fox, a wolf, a meerkat, a honey badger, a goose, a bear cub, a Palomino pony, a puppypiggypotamous (you were the Bowie of zoology), and, between visits to the pooch parlour, a little lion. I have picture proof that your fur did, in fact, grow into a mane. (I wonder if Nat Geo would pay for the pics? Then I could build you the monument you deserve.)

I have had to call Inspector Rex to come and establish a crime scene, as it appears your sister and archnemesis, Tilly, has offed you in the perfect murder. Not a clue has been left, except that Tilly is lying around in a state of depression, the reality of which rings very hollow indeed. She has always eagerly anticipated being the only dog in receipt of affection, so to see the little sleeper agent in this malingering state makes me question her innocence all the more.

The times we quietly slipped out for a quick walk when you began sleeping through the day, Tilly bounded with enthusiasm. What a turnaround from this we have now! A little actress, she must be. She always wanted to go faster than the times you trotted along behind, getting a little slower – but never less enthusiastic – over the months, you see. When you had your first seizure, I was certain Tilly had slipped you a little something, but the vet assured me epilepsy was perfectly sensible in a dog and could be tempered with the right medicine twice a day and a lot of love (and an absence of fraternal murder attempts). When your kidneys slowly failed on you, I suspected Tilly once more. She had poisoned you!!!!! But the vet reacted as if this too were perfectly within the bounds of reason.

Is it even remotely possible that Tilly’s desperate desire to be given any pats going round might not be behind this callous stooping of a once-great little lady? When your back failed you, I knew Tilly must have made you roll on her treats as well as your own while she sat idly, eyeing her next victim (RIP Super Grover). Your eyesight and hearing I had no way of tying to Tilly (Lasers? Polonium?), but that is precisely what the investigation I’m opening will uncover. For there is no possibility in my mind that this is a natural state of affairs, that a lovely little dog could take that many hits so young. You staggered through to the grand old age of 12, but you still had so much love to give, good to do, bones to gnaw, and shits to leave in the hallway.

The morning after you slipped away, the sky rained the tears I couldn’t cry, and the increasing realisation of the shivering cold of my body as I stirred from sleep mirrored the mounting realisation that you were not there to warm me – though I was sure to leave the space you had persistently negotiated over 12 years of patient, rather expert bombardment. Using winter as a cover to begin snuggling up into prime positions, you soon had me making similarly extreme space concessions every night. Us silly, long-living humans only need a millimetre or two on either side of the bed, we’ve got years to catch up on sleep. I knew my place, and I knew yours. It will be there waiting for you each night.

If Tilly is found not to be the culprit behind this senseless tragedy, then I have only one more theory: grand Southern ladies must never reveal their real age in polite society.

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