Cotton and Wool

18th May 1998. It was 20 degrees Celsius in the shade and trees andbushes were becoming green again. The sky was bright blue. From thepine tops came the beautiful sound of greenfinches' and chaffincheschirrup. Stefan and Kasper were out in the garden, enjoying the earlysummer weather. Stefan threw the ball and Kasper raced after it. TheDandie puppy, soon to be five months old, had an abundance ofenergy. He practically flew across the lawn in his wild chase of theball.

Stefan was standing between the apple trees and felt the sun in hisneck and the warm wind through his hair. He looked at Kasper at theother end of the garden. Kasper was just a few steps away from thespot where Rasmus was buried along with his bed and hispillow. Stefan's thoughts went back to that black Sunday a little morethan four months ago, when Rasmus had quietly and undramaticallypassed away in his sleep, nearly 14 and a half years old.

He remembered the uncomfortable silence and emptiness that hadappeared. The next day, his lectures had started in the afternoon andhe had been at home all forenoon. The house had been completelysilent. No dog who came into his room in the morning, merrily barkingand eagerly wagging his tail. No dog who sat by his feet when he hadbreakfast, looking at him with his big brown soulful eyes. No dog whowanted to play or take a walk. Just this massive silence. Even thefamily's other pet, Fenix the cockatiel, kept quiet all day. Usually,Fenix would sing extensive serenades every now and then and wouldoften imitate Rasmus' barking, but on this particular day he keptquiet all day. When Stefan had checked up on Fenix, the 16 year oldbird had been sitting rearmost in his cage, looking really sad. DidFenix sense that something had happened?

The following weeks Stefan remembered as a dull grey period, acolourless existance when it no longer was as fun to come home in theafternoons. No dog was there to welcome him home, tail-wagging andbarking merrily. One was only greeted by that massivesilence. Eventually, Fenix started serenading again - but hisimitations of Rasmus' barking was no longer being heard.

When the loss of Rasmus became too hard to handle, it was a comfortto know that Rasmus had enjoyed a long and very happy life. Above allhe had been spared pain and suffering. Had been spared serious illnessand a final visit to the vet, unlike the family's first DandieHampus. This was an enormous relief. Stefan could recall what it hadbeen like during Hampus' final weeks and it was not a good memory.

On the last Saturday of February, seven weeks after Rasmus'passing, they had got a new little Dandie puppy. Rasmus had been awonderful ambassador for his breed and the best way to honour hismemory was to get a new little Dandie. The puppy's pedigree name wasNew Born's Derino Sun but he was named Kasper by the family. He wasactually a grandson of Rasmus' twin brother Mirage. That little Kasperwas a relative of their beloved Rasmus was a big plus. Kasper wasincredibly cute, had perfect temper and infatuated both family andguests. Everyone who met him was instantly charmed. Fenix thecockatiel's serenades once more included the imitations of Rasmus'barking.

It became fun to come home in the afternoons again. Now one wasgreeted by a tail-wagging, yelping and very affectionate littlepuppy. A puppy who both strengthened the memories of Hampus and Rasmusand at the same time had his own unique personality.

Stefan once more looked towards the spot where Rasmus wasburied. In memory of him, the family had planted flowersthere. Bleeding Heart, Hyssop, Indian Mint and Forget-Me-Nots. Theforget-me-nots were already blooming.

When Stefan saw Kasper come running towards him at full speed withhis ears fluttering and the pink tongue hanging out of his mouth, hethought of how Hampus and Rasmus had enriched his life for more thantwenty years. The many happy memories of them would always live on inhis heart, and that knowledge warmed him right to the soul.

Kasper made a giant leap into Stefan's arms and covered his facewith affectionate licks. Stefan looked at Kasper and his face crackedinto a big smile.

Stefan Warnqvist

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