This is a rather personal post, for which my apologies. Long term readers of this blog will, from time to time, have come across references to my dog. Harvey died this week, having only just been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Thankfully he did not suffer long.
Harvey (a German Shepherd-Collie cross) was a rescue dog, given to us by the Dublin Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals in late 2006, when he was about six months old; he had been very badly treated by his original owners. For the next four years he lived with us on the DCU campus, where he became a popular resident, making friends with staff and students. He did have his own view of things. For example, he formed the opinion that nobody had any business being out on the campus after 11 pm (and he was very precise about the time), and if on a late night walk we came across anyone, he showed his displeasure by growling and baring his teeth – whereas at other times he was wholly friendly. Otherwise it was his quest every night to track down one of the also resident hedgehogs or squirrels.
In 2010, when my term of office as President of DCU came to an end, he moved with us to Ballsbridge, and a year later to Aberdeen. In all of these locations he had a wide circle of both human and canine friends.
He understood rules and regulations, but was not necessarily inclined to adhere to them. He was keen on hygiene: if he came home dirty from a walk, it was his view that he should not mess up his dog bed or even the floor: lying on one of our sofas or indeed one of our beds in such circumstances made much more sense to him.
Harvey had a condition called pancreatic insufficiency, which meant that his pancreas could not help in absorbing food. As a result he had to take daily pancreatic enzyme pills, and could only eat entirely fat free food – a real hardship for a dog who just loved exotic meals. But otherwise he was extremely healthy. It was only just over under two weeks ago that he very suddenly became sick and could not hold down his food. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. He died on Tuesday.
Dogs can be very real friends, and can have strong personalities. We all miss Harvey.