Byline: by Jilly Johnson
BORIS'S great head was heavy in my lap; his breath was shallow and laboured. Tears blurred my eyes as I soothed him with words of comfort, hummed to him and stroked his silky ears.
Boris was dying, but shortly before he slipped from coma into everlasting sleep, his knowing brown eyes rolled open and he searched my face for reassurance that I would not leave him.
Perhaps it is fanciful to imagine that a dog would understand exactly what I was thinking, but in that instant I felt there was a communion of feelings between the two of us. Boris knew precisely how much I loved him and I knew irrefutably that he loved me back.
So I sat with my adored Great Dane all that summer day in the painful certainty that it would be his last, and when he briefly proffered a paw for me to hold I knew that gesture -- familiar yet heartbreaking -- was his final farewell.
I held Boris's paw. He looked intently at me once more with his soulful eyes. I fought to suppress a sob and although grief was almost choking me, I wanted his last memory of this life to be a peaceful one. I tried to sing his signature tune, You're My Favourite Waste of Time, the song I always used to croon to him. But silent tears stifled me.
Boris died on August 17. He was young for a Great Dane -- just six -- and his life had been cruelly cut short after he had struggled for years with pain in his hips and joints. He came from good stock; none of his siblings had problems. Poor Boris was just unlucky.
My husband Ashley and I had tried -- goodness knows, we had -- to help him. He had undergone several operations. He'd even had bespoke calipers and custom-made doggy boots, flown all the way from Denver in the U.S., to aid his mobility and make him more comfortable.
Nothing was too much trouble for our Boris, no expense was too high. He was a family member and I'd have walked …