This morning, at the ripe old age of fifteen and a quarter, Maddie, my parents' Yorkshire Terrier, passed away.
She came in to our lives, along with her sister Mitzi, at the age of 20 months in 1998. To be honest, Mitzi, who died a year, a month and a day ago, was a bit of a diva. The sort of diva who inspired passionate and loyal devotion in all who knew her, but she ruled the roost. Of that there was no doubt. Ever.
Maddie was sweet natured, patient (with kids at least, although she was pretty assertive latterly in letting you know what she wanted) and loving. A real ray of sunshine. I have in my mind the image of Maddie and Mitzi hareing around the North Inch in Perth when we visited on their first Christmas as part of the family.
Maddie and Mitzi welcomed increasing numbers of children as my sister and I eventually had five between us. In 2010, a new puppy, the delightful Magan appeared and she was joined by Maya, a very lovely force of nature if ever there was one, in October last year.
As you'd expect for such an old lady, Maddie was getting more frail. She had her wits about her and despite her eyesight & hearing not being what it used to be, could detect the presence of food from the other end of the house.
I'll remember her as she was last Saturday, tail wagging, happily and spiritedly requesting a piece of carrot cake, looking resplendent in the pink jumper her Mum had knitted for her.
Our family has been extraordinarily blessed with its Yorkies over the last 29 and a half years since the formidable Lucy came along. The tiny little mite had travelled from Elgin to Wick and still had the energy and confidence to sit in front of my Dad and bark at him. It was like she was making it clear that everyone was to dance to her tune. And we did. Twice a year, she'd go to the toy shop to get a new toy to cuddle up to. She'd suck it and almost go into a trance when she hugged it. She used to love chasing the broom, too. My Granny used to play with her for hours. Lucy could also, at least in her head, control the waves, especially on Lake Windermere. She was the undisputed leader of the pack. Heaven help any dog who even thought of eating, or going to the toilet, before she did.
She was joined a year later by Jamie, the softest animal ever. He was so snuggly and patient. He quite happily let my sister dress him up in her dolls' clothes and push him around in her pram.
The offspring of such a pair was always going to be unique. Jodi was their firstborn in 1986 and she stayed with my Mum and Dad her whole life. She might not have been, by some margin, the brightest tool in the box but she was a real sweetheart. She had a special way of cocking her head to one side and quizzically looking up at you. You just didn't stand a chance if you were caught in that heart melting gaze.
And now the last of the older generation has gone. We'll miss her so much. The house was so quiet without her snoring today.
There's lots of mischief, fun and love to be had with the puppies in the years to come. Today, though, I can't help but remember those unique, loyal and loving dogs who aren't with us any more. We were so lucky to have them.