Yet when he wanted to he could move like lightning, racing around our lawn, or lingering on our daily walks so he could then gallop to catch me up. The only indication he ever gave about the trauma he had been through was his terror of thunder, which would make him bolt for a hiding place and cower, trembling.
I can only think it was a result of the terrible thunderstorms he endured while wandering in the open all those weeks, starving and bewildered. And each time it happened, I would cast my mind towards Ireland, and the knowledge that someone there had inflicted this cruelty on him. Feather and I had so many joyful years and he remained in good health until old age, even if his legs were not quite as sprightly as they once were — rather like mine.
Then, one day in September last year, he collapsed. Once I had taken him to the vets, they told me he had a patch of liquid around his heart, which meant he could have a heart attack at any time. The kindest thing was to put him to sleep. This broke my heart, but it would have been selfish to keep him alive. My only request was Feather could die in my arms, at the home he loved. But Jilly fervently hopes that it is not the last. That evening, I stroked his black forehead as he slid into the next world with the same kind of extreme grace as he had done everything else.
I knew he was at peace, but his death unleashed a torrent of tears that took days to stop. The whole household felt it too, including my other greyhound Bluebell, who was heartbroken and still looks for him on every walk. We buried Feather in a beautiful grave at the bottom of the garden with all the other animals who have padded and trotted and scampered their way through our household and into our hearts over the years.
Labradors, mongrels, cats and hamsters, all tucked up together under the earth, each with their own gravestone and inscription. It is only the beginning, of course: despite the valiant work of the Retired Greyhound Trust and sanctuaries all over the UK and Ireland, thousands of dogs each year are still being cruelly abandoned once their racing days are over. But I am confident that the prosecution of this horrible man shows the tide is turning. In the meantime, while I miss Feather every day, I take comfort from the fact that both he and Leo are looking after each other up in the sky.
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I like to picture them, lounging on a cloud, Leo clutching a large whisky and Feather chewing a Bonio. Our Feather and Leo, who art in Heaven.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. My darling Feather Share this article Share. Most watched News videos Blind owners film their guide dogs playing together Prince Harry appears to signal Meghan Markle to move closer to him Horrifying moment man stabs LA bus passenger to death Heartbreaking moment WWII veteran got emotional on BBC Breakfast Horrifying moment mother repeatedly whips son at elementary school Wild brawl breaks out between two women in Sydney Pawsitively adorable cat is a natural escape artist Chinese villagers stunned after spotting fish with a human face Mayor's body falls from coffin in front of funeral mourners in Peru Shocking moment police shoot naked woman who stabbed her son Adopted Ukrainian orphan Natalia denies having a menstrual cycle Officers attempt to evict traveller in caravan from supermarket.
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Jilly Cooper reveals horrors endured by her greyhound before she adopted him
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