Bon voyage, darling girl

On Friday, as the sun set, I bade farewell to Tombi, my “Great Dame”.

My friend, my companion, my guardian angel; we walked a journey together of almost 13 years, sharing five homes, and an extended family of two- and four-legged beloveds.

We all spent time with you this last warm evening, when you lay in your final slumber, paying our respects; it was so clear, our love for you evident; tears.

A real matriarch (as female Danes are inclined), with such a gentle disposition and powerful stature, demanding of respect from animals and humans alike; and yet easygoing and responsive, to mildest requests for good behaviour or canine co-operation.

You accompanied me everywhere, over the years, and a family of furred ones grew.

You formed your own clan; I could leave you in each other’s good company, as I tended to life’s demands. And what a welcoming committee, always upon my return.

I sometimes thought of you as the Famous Five. The newest kid on the block is already 11, with stiff hips in her Basset rump; and the oldest is a tortoiseshell cat in calm repose, grooming in a sunny spot and belying her 17 years) – it’s a long time of sharing space, with hounds and hairballs.

And the walks, so many changes of scenery. Interesting smells, places to lie down and catch your breath, with great views, under shade of big trees.

Small cottages lived in, and larger homes, always fields of green.

Tombs, you saved my life on more than one occasion; and you even saved a sheep…

My epic Dane, and venerable canine, you were beloved by all who knew you.

And we defied the odds, given prognosis for giant breeds.

With lovely walks, and fresh food, and fireside beds.

Illnesses and injuries; we bore witness to each other’s many joys and hurts, and your lion-like eyes always gazed reassuringly.

I’m so glad for that day I “dog-sat” your sister; Venus, a beguiling Harlequin puppy.

So, drove to a Paarl farmhouse and picked you up that same day, just enraptured by this fawn, lanky Tombi-girl.with impossibly big feet and one floppy ear.

Later, grown, you would bound like a steeplechaser on those hilly slopes above the Blaauwklippen cottage.

Then hanging out with horses at Cresta, in good company of even bigger furred friends, co-tenants of the land, recipients of countless carrots and neck rubs. I wrote a farewell to Solitaire, who also left us one hot Friday afternoon.

Then here, growing to love the Helderberg with its own mountains and rivers. Always, my shaggy friends in view.

You may have been the ultimate impulse buy, Big T. But it was actually just love at first sight. And I’ll love you forever.

P.S. A bouquet of flowers arrived right now, for you – delight!

Carolyn Frost: Editor