carine hartman 2021

By Carine Hartman

Chief sub-editor


Lockdown diaries: She was Beloved’s last gift to us

I wasn’t prepared for the Very Important Doctor from the SPCA at my gate.


The black dog runs with me – literally. Depressed like me after 20-odd days in lockdown, he hits our empty street running, trying to climb a fence getting to the yapper a few houses down. Baulking at the lead, he bites the hand that feeds him, gets a couple of klaps and kicks with a sloffie and is eventually dragged back into the yard by the scruff of his neck. Tail wagging, I could’ve sworn he was smiling. And I couldn’t help smiling with him: it was short-lived, but he was out, free à la Braveheart… So I wasn’t prepared…

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The black dog runs with me – literally. Depressed like me after 20-odd days in lockdown, he hits our empty street running, trying to climb a fence getting to the yapper a few houses down.

Baulking at the lead, he bites the hand that feeds him, gets a couple of klaps and kicks with a sloffie and is eventually dragged back into the yard by the scruff of his neck.

Tail wagging, I could’ve sworn he was smiling. And I couldn’t help smiling with him: it was short-lived, but he was out, free à la Braveheart…

So I wasn’t prepared for the Very Important Doctor from the SPCA at my gate two days later.

It seems some curtain creep in our street sent him a video of the “animal abuse”.

I’m dumbfounded. Probably the same creep whose eyes I felt when I fetched my black bin half a block down on Friday.

Doctor, who tells me he is also a policeman, won’t “reveal his source” or “show the incriminating evidence”, but hears about the sloffie, sees the tail-wagging black dog and must know this is a loved family member.

But that’s the problem with power – and creeps: he spots my placid old lady of over 10 years.

“Look how she walks, she is in pain,” says the Doctor.

No, I assure him, no pain, she’s just old, and crossed with an Alsatian. That’s how they walk. And did I tell you she’s got six toes on every paw?

But he’s not listening. “Look at her coat.”

He couldn’t care that she won’t lie still for more than an hour for the brush – and even then you can’t see the difference.

Forget the “animal abuse”, Constable Doctor has a new mission: I get 48 hours for a vet to assess my old lady.

I explain about lockdown; he is adamant. We agree to disagree and I put her in the back of his van for the SPCA vet to give her a once-over.

He’ll bring her back, Constable Doctor says as I sign my “warning”.

He never did.

He eventually took my call three days later and haughtily told me I’ve lost her. For ever.

Yes, he’s having her put down. Yes, it’s his decision, not the vet’s.

But here’s the one thing he is powerless to stop: she was Beloved’s last gift to us – we’ll be there, hold her, when she dies.

Carine Hartman.

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