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Death by distemper

FOLLOW ONE man’s emotional journey as he reminisces over childhood loss of Man’s Best Friend and how he overcame heartbreak through the help of a loving family...

‘In November 1965 my yellow Labrador Rover (nicknamed, affectionately, ‘Pooch’) got struck down with distemper. I was away in a prestigious public school nearly two hundred miles from home, cut off from the drama unfolding, and helpless. At 16, the dog was the love of my life. We went shooting pigeons, pheasants and rabbits together, and, dare I say it, slept in the same bed - that is, when I was at home (for 14 weeks’ holiday a year only).

‘My father was the Vicar of the lovely parish of Loders, in West Dorset. He had also been trained as a journalist. He wrote an amazingly detailed account of ‘Pooch’s’ last days in a sequence of letters, which I have only just re-read, after 44 years. I believe anyone who reads them will be consoled when they may have to face the death of a beloved pet...’

Read Mike Willmott’s poignant childhood letters online now

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