As Roger the vet drove away from the house, carrying Matt's lifeless form in the back of his car, a solitary Magpie flew down the path behind him. "One for sorrow."
Let's start in the right place. Which might be Blackpool, which is where Matt & I met just over ten years ago, but actually I mean - with gratitude through the tears.
Matt has been the most wonderful gift in my life. When I lost Charlie, I knew I had to fill that space and find someone else immediately. I couldn't cope without. And then came Matty - and others said he was scatty, nervy, I should take him back. He wasn't Charlie, I was told. Well, they were right about the last bit.
He wasn't Charlie, and that was good. He was, however, perfect. Perfect for me. And as I loved him he transformed into the most affectionate dog. Never a boisterous, off-the-wall Springer, he could turn the energy on. But then he'd be as happy to potter as to jump.
Though he had a great jump. I think it was those enormous paws of his. Really huge paws for a dog his size. And when he jumped, all four paws off the ground, you knew why they call them 'Springers'!
Some dogs love company. Matt would acknowledge the door bell (never by barking, just by going to the door to see who was there) and then get really excited when people left. Hooray! They're going! As if life began when it was just him & me.
In a way, it did. Him & me in the car. Him & me as I worked from home. Him & me as he slept. Him and me as I slept. Him & me as he ate - he wouldn't eat if I walked away, he wanted me there. He never caught a ball in his life; he didn't take his eyes off me long enough to see the ball existed.
And he re-defined the term "creature of habit", which gave us one or two challenges when we moved. We went back to Ponty, six months after leaving, and Matt went round Ponty park & stopped in every one of his old spots. When you take him somewhere new, his tail stays down, his confidence low. When he is somewhere he knows, his tail goes high, his confidence higher. That day, so many months after leaving, his tail was up and wagging.
I need to thank his vets, principally Simon & latterly Roger. He was a pedigree showdog; his health was complex. He had excellent care. When his kidney disease was diagnosed nearly two and a half years ago, I didn't dare dream we'd have all this time. I thought I'd lost him at Christmas. The more-than five months since then have been a wonderful bonus.
I need to thank his friends, the many people who welcomed him into home & heart. He loved you all.
I need to say that at the end he had stopped eating. One or two very special things still persuaded him, but they caused him great pain, and I had to make a choice. I did not let him suffer. Charlie suffered too much. Matt was spared that. I took him last night so that my Mum might see him one last time, and this morning he got to be in the crowd as the Olympic torch passed by. Then I drove home. Roger came to the house, and Matt slipped quietly away.
Let's end in the right place. Matt & I used to live next to a church. Yesterday we walked to the churchyard across the road and together gave thanks for the life we have shared. Gratitude through the tears. He was my heart, my life, my constant shadow and ceaseless companion. He was the most wonderful gift; and today I had to give him back.
Matt. Matty. Matthew, when I was being strict. Jonobar the Matchmaker on his pedigree certificate.
My sweet, sweet boy.