This post started out as a short dedication to my little pal Chenzi, who passed away a year ago today, but as I began writing, I found I had more to say than I thought.
Chenzi was the Lakeland Terrier who was part of my family for 17 years. My parents got her for me when I was eight-years-old and although I liked dogs, I was also terrified of them at the same time. When I found out I was allowed to have a pet dog, I thought of a whole list of names for her – ‘Blossom’ and ‘Honey’ were the favourite creations of my eight-year-old brain but my dad refused, saying that he wouldn’t be seen dead calling out either of those names when he took the dog for a walk. So in the end, we settled on ‘Chenzi’ – as you do. An associate of my dad’s had spent some time working in Botswana and told him that ‘Chenzi’ was Swahili for ‘my pet dog’. Perfect! we thought, until about five years later when someone else told us that ‘Chenzi’ didn’t mean that at all and instead translated as ‘barbarian’, but it was too late to change her name by then.
Anyway, Chenzi meant the world to all of us. Although my parents originally got her for me, it was my dad who quickly became her master – they adored each other in equal doses and she even grew to look like him! To me, she was like a playmate and sister – me sort of being an only child (my half-siblings are older than me and had already left home by the time I was born), I had to create siblings for myself wherever I could find them or else life could be pretty lonely.
When I was a child, we’d play all kinds of games for hours and as a teenager, she would put up with me crying into her fur either about boy trouble or, in my later teens, just because I’d been on a night out and was drunk. Poor thing, she put up with a lot from me but she’d always wag her tail and try to lick my face profusely.
Chenzi was 17 when she passed away and as sad as it was, it was the right time to go because she hadn’t been herself for a while and had that sad look in her eyes. My sister told me some time ago about a poem she had come across called ‘Rainbow Bridge’, which, whilst it’s cheesy in parts, is lovely and I’m sure anyone who has lost a beloved pet will be able to take a great deal of comfort from it. You can find the full poem here.