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  • Writer's pictureClaire Wortley

Goodbye Ashrowan Mole - pet loss

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

I was 22 when I first experienced the loss of a dog.

Sheba was a Border Collie. A black and white bundle of joy, yapping at our feet trying to keep us all together. I don't remember her age on the day we said goodbye to her but I do recall what went on in my head.

You are the animal person of the family so show this by being professional. No time for tears. We must walk Sheba down to the vets and keep her calm. Not too much fuss or she will know something is up.

There were 3 of us accompanying Sheba on her last walk. Once checked in, we sat for a while in the waiting room trying not to have eye contact with anyone else. After a while we were shown into a side room where the vet explained what would happen. Once the needle went in Sheba slowly went to sleep forever.

I must be strong. I must be strong. I may never make much of myself but I know animals and so I MUST show this.

Off to Work

When I left school at 16, I went straight to work at a local Livery yard. I loved my job. Mucking out, grooming, feeding and exercising horses was my idea of heaven. All the wonderful smells (yes all of them!) straw, hay, sweaty horses and clean leather tack filled my nose and brought a smile to my face. Being outdoors, caring for all types of horses and ponies every day and keeping fit and strong. What more could I want?

Of course, with all the joys there were sad moments too.

A beautiful Hunter type mare became very ill. After the vet had carried out some tests it became clear that the mare was dying. If I remember rightly, she had a huge tumour that could rupture and would mean a very painful death. The decision was made to have the mare put down that day. Her owner wasn't able to attend so we made the arrangements.

As we waited for the 'man and the van' to arrive I calmly explained to the many youngsters, who were down attending to their ponies after school, that they would need to keep out of sight and make sure their ponies were secured. There would be a loud bang and no matter what, they were NOT to let their curiosity get the better of them. They MUST stay out of sight until I gave them the all-clear.

A livery owner offered to hold the mare as the process was carried out, but the mare was head shy and wouldn't bring her head down. I stepped in to comfort her. BANG! The tall mare fell to the ground. Her life snuffed out in the briefest of moments. I gasped and needed a moment to remember to breathe. I heard a child cry out and immediately took control. Rushing towards the youngster I blocked their view of the now twitching mare's body. Talking as calmly as I could I explained that they should stay and fuss their ponies until the mare had been removed. Once the children were back out of view, I then comforted a couple of the grownups who witnessed the ending of life. It wasn't until later that evening that the whole event hit me and I finally allowed myself to cry. I believed that being professional meant no emotion.

Ashrowan Mole

Moley was the first black lab that my partner and I had as a couple. She was this cute little bundle of cheekiness. Bought from a friend, Moley was our first and only proper gundog. We thought she was born part trained because she worked so well. My partner would take her to local shoots but as the years passed and the shoots closed down Mole was just our dog. She loved going out with the dummy and retrieving because that was what she was born to do. Playful, obedient and so gentle.

2 years later we acquired her niece, Budh(Boo). A zainy loveable lunatic who we unfortunately lost to liver disease just 4 years later. My partner and I were totally floored by this horrid event and spent many nights holding on to Moley as we all grieved. A year later we were blessed with Moley's great niece, Bella Boo. A crazy, confident wee beasty whose introduction was to run across the room, jump up on my lap and bite my on the nose. This fizzy, oh-so-friendly lovely girl was a wee bit much for her great aunt. Moley would turn her head in disgust or deliver a very good Paddington bear hard stare at the youngster. A playpen was brought in to provide Moley with some space from the wee terror!


It was during lockdown in 2020 that we thought we were going to lose Moley. If any lab goes off its food, you know they really aren't well. Moley had lost interest in her food and didn't seem to want to move. We called the vet and then made the 40-mile trip to the Fort WIlliam surgery. Once there the vet came out and took Moley inside. We weren't allowed in because of the Covid regulations. After several tests, the vet announced that Moley had the early signs of Pyometra a uterine infection that if not treated quickly could be fatal. Sent away with antibiotics and instructions to keep a very close eye on Moley we hoped the medication would do its job. Moley had almost finished her course of antibiotics when we noticed her breathing was very shallow. We headed straight back to the vets where it was confirmed that the pyometra had worsened quite dramatically. The vets performed a hysterectomy immediately. Moley's uterus was 3 times larger than it should have been. Post-op Moley wasn't eating and I was wary about bringing her home. 40 miles isn't just a pop around the corner if she deteriorated. After another night at the vets Moley regained her appetite and so came home. I had a ramp for her to walk up into my car boot but the darling diva declined. I asked the vet if she could assist me in lifting Lady Molington but was told no due to restrictions. How I never gave myself a hernia lifting my 25kg darling dog,

I don't know?

Moley whinged all the way home. In pain and disorientated she ignored my comforting tone. Once home, standing in our kitchen, it was as if a light came on and Moley suddenly realised where she was. She smiled and wagged her tail as she rubbed against my legs. I am sure she was saying 'Thank you'.

Although Moley had lipomas and small tumours she seemed to gain a second wind. Bright eyed, trotting along beside us we were so grateful to have more time with her. At 10 she was doing well. The odd joint twinge and as mentioned she had small tumours however we had decided not to put her through endless surgeries and anesthetics.


Moley was beginning to slow down. At 12 she was still quite agile, and her appetite was good. That was until July. Moley started to reject her food. My lovely partner must have spent a fortune on different foods trying so hard to find something she would take. At first it was Moley rejecting one meal but eating another. We put this down to old age and becoming a bit fussy. After several scares Moley would eat again and we would feel positive that she was over her fussy phase.

Over the next couple of months Moley rejected more and more food and soon was barely eating. Her weight dropped off and her energy levels dropped too.

Right in front of our eyes our beautiful, loyal and loving girl was fading away.

We knew it was time. The next day we drove Moley to Fort WIlliam to say our final goodbye.

This time I ditched the strict emotional ban I had forced on myself all those years before. This time I wept silently as I drove to the Vets. This time as Moley was prepared I allowed myself the space to feel all the pain. And this time as we held our darling girl and said goodbye we sobbed openly turning to hold each other once she was gone. This time I allowed myself to feel, to cry, to sob and to honour our loss.


All those years ago, I believed that being an adult meant holding back your emotions. To be emotional was soft or weak. Only the feeble people cried, or lost control. People who meant business crammed their feelings into the depths of themselves never to let them emerge. Controlling your emotions meant power.

So now although I understand there is a time and a place for emotions it is important that you provide just that...a time and a place. Ignoring, supressing and denying your feelings could lead to illness or burnout. We have emotions for a reason. So do yourself a favour and respect them, don't deny or belittle them. You are human first!

In memory of Ashrown Mole aka Moley Pig, Lady Molington, Queen Victorimole and Chops 2010-2022. Thank you for being our girl.

Female black Labrador
Thank you for your unconditional love sweet girl!

that I was an animal person person and I take control in and out make this easier for my family this last weekend we had to take my partner I had to take I’ll be in love with astrowin mole known as Molly Pig bollington or Queen Victoria more because she could give you those looks you know we had to take her to the bed goodbyes the difference this time that I have learnt the value emotions I have learnt the value blink so being British quite often means stiff upper lip should never come before your mental health so sweet darling girl to the surgery and found it very hard to hold Back the tears as I drove 40 miles to the vets and then we be able to take a straight through to another room assistant take her other dog into another room so that she wasn’t too stressed that we’re able to cuddle and hold up in love in morning I have to say I sobbed like a baby not only did I sob like a baby the also cried it’s tears flow freely without shame or embarrassment other in that moment beautiful girl left us for the last time we’ve been very lucky because 2 years ago only had Pi m which is an infection of the uterus and it has got very bad you have a massive operation to take out this infected uterus but she stayed with us another 2 years yes she had lumps and bumps and goodness knows what else but is she gave us another 2 years are beautiful beautiful girl the first dog that we have got together as a couple show me been very blessed no I’m all of this of course it’s been velossa bar distant matriarch beloved cream Elizabeth II and then to top it all off I can get a cold or lift the day after I feel pretty wretched anyway I’m trying not to cry because that just makes everything worse the whole point of this is not to share that necessary that I’m in the same place and I want everybody is pity it’s not that at all to share important is to honour your feelings to not hold them in because they will they will trust me they will explode out of you at some point and it ain’t going to be pretty probably literally spilling the milk and you’ll have a massive reaction to it I just how to share this because oak no if they cry don’t think any less of a man if they show sorrow we need to let each other know that we honour each other’s feelings and in releasing those emotions honouring them letting them flow freely find a path to healing in the past to come we find the path how to cope around the situation and that’s what are emotions are for they are there reus from The Incredible torment we can feel the terrible pain we can feel the loss and grief the hurt the rejection feelings of failure neglect of abandonment any of them they are all there and they all need to be honoured they can go or at least diminish a whippet live alongside them fearing that mobile consumers and we can never move on thank you that’s Rohan mould so beautiful girl a great niece your majesty years of service much loved

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