Went to Rainbow Bridge on 26.07.09

A tribute by Catherine O'Driscoll

Our little Gwinnie died yesterday. She was fifteen years and eight months old. She was gentle, and joyful. She was a peacemaker.

Fifteen years and three months ago, Gwinnie came home with me and fell in love with Samson. I can still see the wide smile on his face when we brought her through the door. "Thank you, thank you," he said. He showed little Gwinnie the house and the garden, and she wrapped her teeth around his neck, and he let her. Their eyes shone. They had found their soul mates.

Gwinnie taught herself to walk upstairs, but Samson taught her how to walk down. "Look, this is how you do it," he said as she stood fearfully at the top. Then he walked down, asking her to follow. But she was too afraid. So he walked up again. "Look, this is how you do it," he said, inviting her to follow once more. But she was still afraid. So he walked up a third time and looked her in the eyes. "See, it's easy, follow me." And she did.

Fifteen years isn't such a long time. Fifteen years is a lifetime for a dog.


Gwinnie was a punk puppy. She had a mind of her own, and she used it well. She was a rabbit hunter, a wall jumper, a nimble footed speed chaser. Gwinnie had no time for boundaries, for walls. There was a time when she drove me mad with worry.

Gwinnie was also a cuddle magnet. "Stroke me here," she'd say. "No, not there, here. Stroke me again. Tickle me there." And I did.

Gwinnie was an enigma, a dichotomy. She was strong and wilful and self-determined. She lived life on her own terms. But she was also tender and loving, gentle and kind.


We cried together when Samson died. So young, only five years old. We cried together when Chappie died, and Sophie.

Gwinnie has lived in five different houses with me. Five different gardens. Five different new beginnings. She stood by me as we grieved our losses together. She loved me through thick and thin.

When Rob arrived, Gwinnie got the hump. He had taken her spot on the sofa, next to me. But soon she forgave him, and began to love him. And in the end, he loved her, and she loved him. Gwinnie came to rely on Rob. He was her gentle rock. Rob wrote her a song. It is beautiful, like she is beautiful.

Time never robbed Gwinnie of her spirit. She was a punk. Old and frail, we helped her up the steps, we helped her stand when she couldn't get up. We changed her diet. We gave her supplements and remedies. We willed her to keep going. We watched carefully, observing. Is she OK? Is she happy? Is there anything more we can do?

And she rallied round. She began to stand on her own, to walk up steps on her own. Her footing got steadier. "We'll have another two years with her," I said. I believed myself.


Only the day before, she had come walkies with us, down to the bottom field. She refused to stay home. Spirited, wilful. "How dare you go on walkies without me!" She would not let us. She made us laugh with love. Only the day before, she had danced across the garden, sparks of joy flying from her eyes. Only the week before, she had walked into my office and stood next to me, and told me she loved me. Only a few days before, she had paddled in the puddle. Only the night before, she had followed me for left-overs.

They say there is no time on the other side. No body to wear out. No time to run out.

My mind flashes with remembrances of time. Of Gwinnie in the lane, pausing to speak to strangers. Of Gwinnie at the vet's, eager to meet the fan club. Of Gwinnie on the beach and in the dunes, chasing rabbits, hanging out with the surfer dudes. Of Gwinnie, sound as a pound, trustworthy and safe with people and dogs.

All those wonderful times.

Time, it runs out. Get a dog and she'll steal your heart, and then a time will come when she breaks it.

But feelings transcend time. When I feel Gwinnie in my heart, I feel love. A special Gwinnie kind of love. Unconditional love, warm love, tender love.

Time will never take her love away.

Yesterday we buried our little Lily, our Peace Warrior, in the garden, and in our hearts. I used to call her Lily. She left when the lilies were in bloom, and there will be a lily on her grave to remind us of precious times.

They say, in time, we will meet again. It's just – I thought we'd have more time.


Catherine's beloved Dannie joined Gwinnie at the Bridge in October 2009.

Back to the Rainbow

2009 Irish Retriever Rescue UK