Belle was the most adorable puppy I had ever laid eyes on; her ears were too large to be allowed, she had a permanently quizzical expression and the pads on her little paws matched her bright pink tongue. It was love at first sight. She was a long haired Weimaraner, a present from my Dad to my Mum for her 40th birthday, and she grew up quickly into a gangly, wiggly, overenthusiastic member of the family. To say she had a presence is an understatement - tripping hazard would be more accurate - Belle was everywhere; underfoot in the kitchen, sprawled out at the bottom of the stairs, nudging at knees for a fuss while making short work of anything on the coffee table with her very waggy tail. If you gave her half a chance she'd be on your lap, failing that she'd offer you her paw until she had your attention. I missed her so much when I left home to go to University but each time I was back for the weekend I'd wake in the middle of the night to hear her scratching at my door to be let into my bedroom, once inside she'd shoot me a look as though to say 'What took you so long?' and then lay down to snooze. Like Peter Pan she never really grew up, she kept her puppyish nature right up to being 11 or so and never grew into her ears either.
Yesterday afternoon, after almost 12 years as part of the Cope clan, Belle was put to sleep - it was her time to go - old age caught up with her and there was a rapid decline in her health since Christmas. Pets can't live forever and it is always so sad to say goodbye but it is worth the heartache now to have had the years that came before.