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It is very hard for me to write this editorial but I am aware that I am fulfilling an obligation of gratitude and that it is unavoidable.

It has been four days since Rick passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. I am still knocked out by the lack of a logical explanation − those of us who are used or rather forced to using logic, cannot avoid clinging on to it − to a question that, in this case, does not have an answer. Perhaps the best answer came from a good friend of mine, Professor of Animal Law in Michigan, who was one of the first people who I told about Rick dying, as he had met him a few years ago. He said:

“Oh my, that is very sad. Death of others we care about is always so hard to deal with. It is so final, so out of our control. Take care of yourself as you deal with this.”

It is true that it's hard and sad to say goodbye to our colleagues, our dogs, who are part of our lives because throughout the years, our mission is to love them and take care of them as well as we know and can. When they pass away, it is the end of that intense and beautiful relationship, built everyday by both parties and that final moment, is out of our control.

Rick was a West Highland White Terrier, Majorcan by birth and Catalan by adoption, of British parents. A fantastic mix. He had been registered here since 2000. He was two weeks away from celebrating his 16th birthday and despite some minor ailments, on top form. Always happy and enthusiastic about new things, fun, loving and always in his place, self-confident, with an intense look in his eyes, inquisitive at times, sweet and good-natured at others and his behaviour showed a strong, friendly and tender heart. However, like all terriers, Rick was a very brave dog and resistant to pain. I never heard him complain, even though when he hurt himself and had to go through painful treatment. Neither did he ever get tired, we both loved going hiking and his resistance was legendary. His last achievement was to climb (aged 14) the “Matagalls”, a considerably high peak. He went at the front, opening the way and occasionally checking that I was OK. He also liked the sea a lot and walking on the beach in winter. When we lived in Majorca, we used to walk to Illetes in the evening and when we came to live here, we used to go to Castelldefells. It was typical of him to stop suddenly in front of me, lift his head to look at me and shake it as a sign that he was happy to roam free. He also liked swimming. The first few years, in Majorca, he came behind me if I dived from a rock in order to swim with me. During that final summer, I made him swim a lot to strengthen his hind legs and to prevent him suffering from a little arthritis in the hips that had bothered him during the winter. Now, in this final summer, he was doing very well. He no longer limped.

I called him Rick after the main character in Casablanca. I sometimes thought that his character was similar to that of the character played by Humphrey Bogart, as if I had found a name that suited him. Rick knew how to be there when he was needed and to be independent, just like me. We both loved travelling and we travelled in as many ways possible and to many parts of the world. I think he, like me, liked the "smell of airport". His first trip with me was 1200 kilometres by car, when he was a 6-month old pup. We had to go to Köln for three months, where I was working as a visiting Professor at the university. It was a fun journey, I realised that I was starting, with him, to discover the world. Everything caught his attention, ducks in the park, pigeons in the square, street artists, who entranced him and made him say “Uuuuuhhhhh…!”. On this occasion, we travel by ferry from Palma and then by car. He managed brilliantly. I remember his look of astonishment when the ferry started to move and then a glint of fun in his eyes.

All of those years that we lived so intensely only leave a smile on my face. A feeling of gratitude for having met him and shared so much together. He adapted to all the changes that entered my life during this period. Some very important. He accepted the new people in our life and in the last four years, you could say that "he adopted" Hudson, a Westie who was his soul mate and who he was teaching - with some difficulties - to be, like Rick, a "gentledog".

I only wanted to share with my readers that I am not ashamed to be in mourning. That the pain of the loss of Rick is simply a sign of my deep and serene feelings. Rick loved me a lot and I him, and I have an "encyclopaedia" of anecdotes that have filled these years. All of them a constellation that will always shine in my memory.

Rick was also very handsome, he knew it, but was never vain. Rick always approached with a mix of calculated shyness, which made him immediately accepted by both humans and animals. He never confronted anyone and I never heard him growl aggressively. He was a solid dog. A “bon vivant”. On Saturday he ate his food with a ravenous appetite, as always. I picked him up to take him out to do what he needed and when I put him on the ground, he collapsed. We did everything we could to revive him but he passed away.

At the UAB Veterinary Clinic Hospital, they attended us professionally, quickly and with gentleness and respect that, from here, I would like to thank them for.

Teresa Giménez-Candela
Professor of Roman Law
Animal Law Professor
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

keys law, legal , case law , animal

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