It's been a month since we buried Mopsa in the orchard and I can't believe how much I miss her.
I'm a pretty hard-hearted character, unsentimental on the whole, dealing plainly with life and death as you do, on a farm.
But oh, she's left such a huge hole in my heart.
Not being nose-nudged by her as I slump in the armchair, hand dangling pointlessly for her wet touch leaves my palm wanting. The threshing barn, her "big kennel" has a yawning doorway unfilled by her hearthrug body, no head propped up on the stone step to watch me move across the yard as I carry out my chores.
Everything reminds me of her, because she did everything with me, or so it feels now. She walked with me, sat with me, snoozed with me, ate with me, loved, I'm sure, with me.
Last night in the pub, steak fat trimmings on the plate, I no longer needed to wrap them into a napkin to bring home her favourite treat. In a moment my mood shifted as I realised, again.
And where are those wonderful wriggling chestnut eyebrows, communicating this and that? And the determined pat of the paw on my leg to say that, no, I hadn't yet hugged her enough and more was required? And there's just too much space on the carpet; there should be two large dogs to step round, not one. I miss the particular quality of her fur, softer and silkier than Fenn's rough coat. I miss the shape of her head, the feel of her ears, even the cheesiness of her breath and the uneven crook of her teeth that meant she was not to be bred from.
Yesterday I collected windfall apples from the orchard, just a few of the thousand still left after mammoth juicing and cider making sessions. And there is the place where she is buried, unmarked as yet, but Fenn lying down directly on top, as she unfailingly has these past weeks - two acres of orchard to choose from and somehow she knows. I talked to the pair of them, Mopsa so very much there and not there. I see her moving through the grass, led by the scent of fox and sheep, making her own trail through the trees, always independent, whilst Fenn walks in my tracks. I take them up to Mopsa's Meadow, named for her five years past and we sniff the breeze, the three of us.