Island Life by David Slack

Maybe she found an island

What can you say about a dog that died? That he liked Beethoven, licking his private parts, and me.

Oh, it's so hard to put it into words when the dreadful day comes. And yet the Marlborough District Council, among others, wants to charge you a hundred bucks if you don't tell them your dog is dead. Really. We live in hard, callous times.

I heard the man from the council giving it a good defence on the radio the other morning. He thinks people are lazy. They're having to chase all over the show for unpaid registration fees.

It's a reality that money talks. A hundred dollars isn't a lot, but to most people it's a lot to make them sit up and think and actually take responsibility for what is a requirement by law, to let us know that their dog has died.

The kennel club people suggested he look into his heart and ask himself if the problem might not be that the owners are beside themselves with grief.

I ask myself a different question. As someone with a web site that automatically writes things for people, I see nothing but opportunity here. I ask myself: I wonder if they could use a hand writing the letter?

The kennel club people are bound to be right: you can't think clearly when you're stricken with grief. But the council people are right too - time is money. They need to know where they stand and a letter must be forthcoming.

Dear council, oh how I hate to write.

I might even do this for free, now that I think about the pain, anguish etc. I would offer a selection of styles to suit individual taste, like any good funeral parlour.

A cold, perfunctory acknowledgement, for instance:

Spot dead. Stop sending bills.

Perhaps something a little gentler:

Our dear little Damian turned up his toes last night, We won't be needing another collar, thank you.
Kind regards, Andrew.

You could pour your heart out - no point living in denial, after all.

And then when Che was five, he did the sweetest thing….
….And a few years later when the children had stopped tormenting him, he really became quite placid for a Rottweiler.

You could use the same script you delivered at the pet memorial service

Russell - a loyal and faithful hound,
a lifelong friend,
a footstool of just the right dimension.

Sometimes being frank and honest helps you ease your burden.

I never liked the bloody thing, and once Adolf was gone, I honestly couldn't see the point in spending good money on meat. He had a collar with the name DPF in diamonds. I suppose you want that too???

Some call this a moment of anguish, but in country music, the term is "golden opportunity". I don't know if I could run to a song, but I promise you this guy could do you a beauty, and quite possibly even throw in a memorial web site.

I see the really big money, though, in the one style that truly makes my toes curl. You would not believe how many times I used to get requests for a "wedding poem" before I turned off the facility for bespoke speeches on the site. There is a huge market for it, although the correct description, which is even more accurate in this context is ... doggerel.

Here's the note I cannot write
My life was once in clover
But now my dog has breathed his last
My happy days are over

As well as that, my prostate's crook
And each time I bend over
I wonder, as the Doctor probes,
If I might soon join Rover.

I know you blokes are busy there, and
Life's just one big battle,
But spare a thought for me out here
With ninety head of cattle

I know you say your rules make sense
But I can't help but think
That if the show was run by Don
I wouldn't need a drink.