We are completely and utterly devastated to have said a final goodbye to our most adored Chloe on 23rd June. She made her last journey with us smothered in love and a full belly of Gravy Bones.
She came into our lives when we needed her most. We moved into our Barn in the Essex countryside back in 1992 and took on the mammoth task of converting it from an apple storage barn into our home, which we only finished when we sold up in 2015. We first bought Ally, Chloe’s Mum for £50 from the next village, she was a litter of 8 or 10 and I remember seeing them all in the outbuilding, complete bundles of fluff. Ally was a cross between a Labrador and a Collie with a white fleck on her chest and she took up residence with us. There had always been dogs throughout my childhood in our family but for David, Ally was his first dog and oh how much we loved her. She was 9 years old when a neighbouring dog got his wicked way with Ally in the garden. This day was pivotal in our lives 28 July 2007 because it was also the same day that we had returned from the hospital after losing our first son Daniel, born at just over 24 weeks. I remember laying in bed thinking if puppies would arrive and saying to David, well that’s the least of our worries right now. Nine weeks later, an emergency caesarean and 3 puppies arrived, Chloe, Olive and Betty. Ally was in complete shock and as a result I reared the puppies for the first few days of their lives, feeding every hour and a half. Chloe was certainly the runt of the litter, the smallest and most fragile. At one point, my Mum had her in the palm of her hand and said it would be better to have he put to sleep. But Chloe was having none of it, she was a fighter. She was the one that looked most like her Mum and from when she was born she has a crease down the front of her nose that stayed forever more. It was wonderful to have the puppies running around the barn and the garden, although at 9 poor Ally took awhile to adjust bless her. Betty and Olive went to specials homes, loved and pampered. I wanted Mum and Dad to have Chloe, but one day my Dad took me to one side and said, ‘you keep her and if there is ever a day when you can’t, we will have her.’ I think my Dad knew how much we needed her. Chloe use to cuddle up to her Mum soaking up the sun in the living area of the Barn and it was wonderful to have Mother and Daughter. Ally was a good Mum and tolerated Chloe in her loving way and brought a spring into her step for a while. There were together for 3 years. I never knew how much a dog could mourn, as Chloe did for over 6 weeks when we lost Ally. We buried her in the garden and slowly we all adjusted.
Chloe was never far from my side, I was the softy and David was the one that trained her. For some strange reason Chloe loved anything leather, David’s golf shoes, my leather gloves and one day whilst I was ironing the leather patches on the backs of David’s jeans were all missing. Chloe had sneaked them out of the ironing pile and chewed all the patches off. If she was ever in trouble David was the one to tell her off. At the back of the Barn was an oak tree which became known at the naughty tree. David always sent Chloe there to sit, we always knew when she had been naughty because of the look on her face and even without telling her in the end she use to run to the naughty tree and just sit there.
Chloe came into her own when on the 11th November 2010 we lost our twins Charles and Genevieve just short of 25 weeks. After nearly 10 years of IVF we knew this was the end of the road for us and that we would never have children of our own. We poured all our love into Chloe and through the darkest of days she was our rock. The number of times I use to sneak off to the greenhouse to have a good cry and Chloe was always by my side with her head on my lap and letting my tears fall on her head.
One day we sat in the kitchen and David said what are we doing it all for, we were like two people and a dog in a small boat in this huge ocean and we were just drifting aimlessly. This is what started our path of adventure, selling the Barn and buying the Motorhome. To be honest, if it wasn’t for David I would have probably have still been there but it was the best decision we ever made.
We set off on the 21st September 2017 and the photos and the memories we have with Chloe are priceless. She would sit between the two seats at the front as we were driving along and go from one person to another to be stroked. Chloe loved cuddles, and if you stopped she would nudge your hand to start again or go to the next person. Our morning ritual was that Chloe would go from one side of the island bed in the Motorhome to first have a cuddle with me and then walk round the other side to have a cuddle with David. Then morning walks and then chilling for most of the day. Being black she was happiest lying in the van, away from the flies, which she hated. She learnt to swim in later life, coaxing her with the ball in the water, slowly, slowly and getting further and further out. When we were in Greece in Summer of 2018 it was the perfect swimming conditions, shallow and warm. There is one time when all three of us were swimming together in the beautiful calm, warm waters of the Greek sea and this is one of the best memories of the whole trip for me. From then Chloe was hooked. Last year when we went to Norway and were up in the Arctic Circle all Chloe wanted to do was get in the water and swim, she just loved it. She loved a beach and could smell it I think, because the utter excitement of running with the sand between her paws chasing a ball, was such a joy to see. The miles and miles we walked together along the beaches all over Europe, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Croatia always wanting a ball thrown.
Chloe was a people dog, some dogs love other dogs and some dogs prefer people and Chloe was more interested in people than other dogs. She did tolerate my Mum’s little Westie Hamish, who adored her. But other dogs would come to say hello and she would just walk on by.
For the last 3 years, since we have been travelling, Chloe has been with us all day every day and showered in love. Someone said to me yesterday she was a gift and she was the best gift we ever had.
The pain is so very raw, for over 21 years we have had a continual Ally / Chloe dog in our lives. No more greetings at the door, no more eyes looking up at us as we are eating, no more crumbs to be eaten, no more cuddles of her velvet ears. Life will be very different now, but we wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Sleep tight dear Chloe, run free.