Many years ago, when I first started driving taxis for a living, in conversation with a friend I have known for well over half my lifetime, I said I would only be doing it for a few months ‘until something better comes along’.
But that was at a period of immense change in my life, when my father was hospitalised for months on end - for what was to be the last time - when the house we had shared together for years was burgled.
Then I had chased after one of the burglars, when he came back with his mate for another go the following night - presumably for my heavy items.
All of this happened within the space of three weeks.
In the midst of it all there was my dog, Leo, who one morning when I had been out getting shopping, swallowed 43 tablets, which had been posted through our door by the pharmacist’s delivery driver.
They had been delivered in what is called a dosette box: a compartmentalised box made of cardboard and plastic film, in which pills are placed for each day of the week, according to time periods through the day. It is to help those like my father, who have to take a large number of pills at the correct day and time.
For two weeks after my father had been admitted to hospital, these boxes had been put through the door with no problem. In itself, this was a tremendous waste of public money, that they had not been cancelled. The boxes are supposed to be covered by a letter of authorisation, certifying that there are no pets, children, nor vulnerable adults at the property, though there had been no incident until the third week.
Leo lived for a further three days, before dying in my arms on a Friday night from liver failure. For some reason, I kept my hand at his nose, so he could smell me.
The animals with whom we live are loved and cherished members of our families and it is irredeemably sad when they are no longer there, especially under such circumstances as these. I have never lived with another dog since, though all dogs are welcome in my taxi and I always enjoy providing safe transport for my valued regular canine customers.
Any day on social media, you can see people posting pictures of their dogs, cats and other animals. To know that other people publicly express love for their animals in such a manner fills me with hope. And these manifestations of respect are a reminder that unconditional love, though intangible, is a real thing.
It is all around us and no matter how hurt the unpleasantness and mendacity of human beings can make us feel from time to time, love is stronger than evil and it always wins. In the end.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 19 September 2018
National Pharmacy Association, Patient safety quarterly report: Quarter 1 (January – March) 2018, April 2018, as retrieved 11 September 2018