It was approaching my 9th birthday and all I wanted was a dog. I was an only child and with my parents in the process of separating, my request for a dog was probably not the best timing all things considered; but it was all I wanted. When my request was granted my mum and I paid a visit to the local rescue centre.  I can remember seeing all those pleading eyes willing for mine to meet theirs and pick them – it was just awful, but pick one we did, a golden labrador aound 3years of age. We were told that we had a weeks grace to wait in order to allow his previous owners to claim him, and if they didn\’t come forward he was ours.

One week later THE day arrived, the day I felt I had waited forever for. I got home from school with my friend to meet my new doggy companion. As I walked through the dining room I noticed a lead and a note on the table. Quickly scanning through, I just saw the words \”dog in the kitchen, hope you like him\”. As I was just about to open the door my friend who had read the letter properly said \”it\’s a different dog!\” I read it again and sure enough, my mum had left a note saying the labrador\’s owners had claimed him and that the dog in the kitchen was a different one who was due to be destroyed that day. I rushed over to the door, opened it and peered inside – nothing! I could see no dog, then, all of a sudden a small black and tan sheltie like cross ran past me into the room. With paint marks on his back as the only reminder of him having a previous owner, this is how I first came to meet Scamp. Having been saved from the jaws of death by the skin of his teeth Scamp was to become everything that made our house a home for the next TWENTY years!! He was there when I left school, went to college, got my first job, first boyfriend, left home, everything; Scamp was always there. He was a truly beautiful dog with a big personality. He had the most beautiful egyptian like eyes and was often mistaken for a female dog because he was so pretty. So pretty in fact that he won both classes of a pet portrait competition run by the RSPCA that I had entered him in.

He had never any real major illnesses until he reached the age of 18 when he got testicular cancer, up until that point he would race round like a pup and make you look like a liar when people asked his age because he was so remarkable. When he got cancer the decision was made to allow him the operation. I figured if he died on he operating table he had never had the pain or suffering of the cancer and had lived a full life. If he lived then we had made the right decision, which is what we did. Scamp did pull through; surprisingly quickly at that. When he reached the 20 year milestone, I decided to place a congratulations piece in our local newspaper. After this was published a journalist from the paper asked if they could come and do an article on Scamp as he maybe the oldest dog in Wakefield; and sure enough there we were on page 3 recounting the past 20 years!  A couple of months after the article Scamp went down hill rapidly, he couldn\’t walk too well and seemed to be in a lot of discomfort – we knew this was the begining of the end.

Then one night I had a phone call, it was my dad calling with some \”bad news\”, I immediately said \”Scamp?\”, but no, it was a close friend if our who had passed whilst on holiday, shocked but still knowing the inevitable for my beloved dog was not far away I prayed that we would not have to make the decision for him. Then almost a week later the atrocities of 9/11 hit our screens. Here we were with death and grief seemingly all around and this little dog of mine was trying to keep a real grip on life. I was grieving for the friend we had lost on holiday, the victims of 9/11 and I was starting to grieve for the friend I knew I was about to lose. That day came about 3 weeks later, when despite the prayers, we had to make that decision for him. On our way to the veterinary surgery I insisted we drive slowly through the local park (his most favourite place) with him laid on my lap with the windows open so he could smell the smells one last time. With tears rolling down our faces Scamp was put to sleep with my mum by his side. He had given us 20 wonderful years in which he taught us the joys and heartaches of being a dog owner. I think of him often and will never forget the huge impact he has had on our lives.

Claire from The UK