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After the previous blog post was published (see post #319), I received a comment from an old friend asking after our Border Collie, ‘Mist’. I had to give him the sad news that Mist had died a month earlier on 22 June 2022. It wasn’t something that Chris and I had been keeping quiet about, we just didn’t want to make a song and dance about it. Mist was 14+ when she died, a good age for many dog breeds, though fairly average for a Border Collie.
If you have been following recent blog posts, you will have picked up that Mist was becoming an old dog. She was still getting out in the hills and mountains, but we were making the trips shorter and without too much height gain. Just ten months earlier she had made the arduous ascent of Coire Raibeirt from Loch A’an to the cairngorm plateau (see post #308) with no more assistance than a push up the bum on the bigger rock steps, but once past the obstacles, she was away to her usual position in front.
On our May 2022 trip to Scotland, the dog walks had become much less energetic, though there was always a big show of excitement when the walking boots appeared. Then in June, Mist went to the vet for a routine check. Two internal tumours were detected, and I didn’t bother asking the vet if she could operate, due to Mist’s age, though I doubt if the vet would have agreed anyway. We decided to let her go peacefully (the vet had advised “Better a week early than a week too late”). So, two days later, Mist slipped away peacefully in a sunny garden at the vet’s surgery.
Now, this blog is about mountains (and hillocks) not dogs, and there may be some readers who don’t much care for dogs, which is fine – not all humans enjoy canine company. So, the remainder of this post is going to be a collection of photos of British hills and mountains – it just so happens that there is an image of a black and white Border Collie in each frame.
It’s sad to lose any true companion, be that a human, dog or cat, but it’s all part of nature and time rolls on. Things I will miss with Mist’s passing include the grace and beauty of a black and white collie moving effortlessly up a steep mountainside, those big brown eyes staring at me when the lunch pack came out of the rucksack and even the big sloppy kiss she would give (even though I could guess where that tongue might have been minutes earlier!). Truly a dog in a million (well for me anyway). Goodbye Mist, gone but not forgotten.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock with additional images from Babs Boardwell (Babs Boardwell Photography), John Bamber and Tom Strawn.