As a lady, Mildred, our beloved lurcher, never revealed her true age, but we were told she was between six months and two years old when we adopted her. At first she was a nervous wreck, terrified of steps, string, cables, water, rattling cans, food (she had to be fed with a spoon) and oddly enough men wearing hats or baseball caps. She would wee and chew the furniture if she was left alone for more than a few minutes. Eventually (several rugs and chairs later), she settled down and became the lady of the house - or at least shared the balance of power with one of our two cats.
Mildred would walk to school with our six-year-old daughter every day, and at night she would run around the shared garden of our flat chasing a (real or imaginary) fox, or disrupt a peaceful picnic asking for food. Mildred was fast but not always accurate in her aim, once running straight into a tree while chasing a squirrel. On another occasion she fell off the gangplank while on a canal boat holiday in Norfolk and ended up in the tidal River Yare, from which I tried to rescue her, and from which we were both rescued, one in each arm, by a lifeguard – an unsung hero to whom we shall forever be indebted.
Mildred was a tough employer, and rarely permitted us to go on holiday, but when we did she would stay with a dog trainer in London, whose agency arranged for her to appear in various photoshoots. She took to modelling like a lurcher to a sofa! In 2014 we moved to Florida, USA – ostensibly for work, but more accurately for Mildred's retirement. At the age of 12 (-ish), she would still go for nightly walks of about a mile, arriving home in the sweltering summer without even panting (unlike our much younger lurcher Merlin).
Today was her last day - 12 years after we adopted her from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. She struggled to her feet and went on her final walk, despite arthritis, a pulled muscle and a deep wound which would not heal. Following her walk, she had a feast of cheese and went to sleep, and her legs twitched as she dreamt of the greatest run. We took her to the vet who has given her wonderful care in her last years, and she was peacefully put to sleep.
May Mildred rest - preferably on a comfortable sofa – in peace. At least until she spots a squirrel from the corner of her eye.