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Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is so very hard and today we said farewell to a darling boy, a much loved part of our family.

Neo came to live with us when he was nine years old in 2013.

He came from a loving home but he really didn’t like it when his mum went off to work. Other dog company just wouldn’t do it for him, so like any any go-to retriever, Neo developed the habit of escaping every day for a bit of a jaunt and to find another human as stand-in for his mum until she came to get him. It worked every time.

Neo was one of the world’s gentle souls and his greatest love was people. His favourite place to visit – when his mum was at work – was the local pub. There, he would inevitably find a nice person having lunch (he was a bit of a lady’s man and had big, brown eyes and an irresistible pick-up smile), and plonk himself down at her feet to offer his adoration until someone checked his collar and made the phone call.

While he never meant to cause worry, his wanderings became a problem for his hard working mum.

I knew all this because his mum and I were working together at the time and there was quite a few occasions when she’d have to bring Neo back to work. He’d often hang around with me but not everyone wanted to have a big, hairy golden retriever on their feet while trying to work, and word came down from above that it couldn’t keep happening.

At the time, we happened to be renting a place in town that had a very well fenced garden, so I suggested to his mum that she drop him off at our place on her way to work — because my family were at home at the time, he would have people there and we also had a lovely labrador lady dog.

This is how Neo came to be a part of our family. He was dropped off for a play date, to see how things went, and the dear, sweet dog made himself immediately at home – in our house and in our hearts – and he’s been with us ever since.

Fast forward four happy years and there comes a time when things like hind-legs stop working so well. It becomes too painful to move sometimes, so even getting up to have a pee is agony and for a fastidious boy, just doing the essentials became very stressful.

I watched and did what I could but when he was no longer able to get down to the dam for a swim, I knew it wasn’t going to be long. We held on for a while with painkillers but they made him feel sick to his stomach, and there was really nothing we could do to stop his hips from getting worse. So, yesterday, I made the call and today, after a lovely day of treats and cuddles, we said goodbye to our dear friend.

Neo was much loved and will be greatly missed. I’m in mourning now, until further notice.

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