Sometime later, when a group of Brits were trying to help the Refuge de Flassans in the Var, several of us went there and adopted a dog. Bosun’s owners, Nicholas and Victoria went along and adopted THE most beautiful black Labrador - Neptune. You’d not expect that such a good specimen of a breed would be in a refuge, but Neptune was originally from a breeding kennel where he’d been used at stud. He was and is a beautiful Lab. He’d probably been chucked out because he’d got too old to be of further use. Well, he landed on his feet when Nick and Victoria, and daughter, Daisy, gave him a new home.
Travelling from England to France
The family wanted a wire-haired male. Scupper was the only boy and fortunately had the right coat. Unfortunately he was the runt of the litter. When he was born he was a tiny and very weak puppy and not expected to make it. He was hand-fed and being the little fighter he was, he made it with all flags flying. When the family went to see him they went with some trepidation, after all, they were to have no choice as he was the only boy available. They needn’t have worried. One look and they were totally captivated. Scupper had found his family. And when he was old enough and with all the right injections and papers, Nicholas collected him and brought him to France.
Nick and one very small, tired puppy
Soon after this, I got to meet him. Scupper was a puppy so scrumptious and adorable, you felt you could eat him. He was beautiful, he was bright, he was interested in everything going on. He was cute and funny and responsive and loved to be cuddled.
Daisy and Scupper
Scupper and Neptune spent their time either in Monaco or in the house in the country - in the Aveyron.
His first brush with disaster came in February when he ate some slug bait. He was taken immediately to the vet who put him on a drip. His system was flushed out and after a few days, happily, he recovered.
Water is fun!
Scupper came to stay here on two or three occasions. He was a dog that always wanted to please, he gladdened the heart of everyone who met him and everyone who met him fell in love with him. If he had a fault, he barked a lot but then he was a Jack Russell. Here, he’d wear a citronelle collar, which bothered him not one jot and it worked – no barking. Even with his special collar on, he looked adorable because he was.
Christmas 2006 - Victoria & Daisy with Neptune & Scupper + biscuits!
Two weeks ago today – a Saturday – he was at home in the country and, as he always did, followed his friend, Neptune, outside. After so much rain, the grasses had grown and Victoria watched Neptune running along and every now and again, Scupper’s head would appear, bobbing up and down – the grasses pretty much covering such a little dog. But a little later, Victoria was horrified to see him return to the house with an enormous swelling on his neck. She rushed him to the vet who said it wasn’t likely to be a snake bite as he was too lively. The truth is we don’t know what caused the swelling: a snake, an insect, perhaps he ate something – like all Jack Russell terriers and especially puppies, he was into everything. Whatever it was, he was one sick dog, and unfortunately the medication seemed to make him worse. He went back to the vet three times over the next day or so but by the following Thursday, he had deteriorated and first thing on Friday morning, Victoria put the Scupper and Neptune into the car and drove the six hours to their regular vet in Cap d’Ail, where he was immediately put onto a drip, blood taken and the woeful diagnosis given that he had renal failure. But no one was giving up.
He remained on a drip for days, eventually leaving the surgery to go home at night to the Monaco apartment, and then, back next day to be hooked up again. He ate the tiniest amount of food but he was fast losing weight and getting weaker.
Daisy & Scupper - gardening?
Two days ago, he seemed weaker, his legs were wobbly and he had a cloudiness in his eyes. He was a very sick dog and there seemed to be nothing to do but put little Scupper to sleep. On the way to the surgery, though, he suddenly brightened up and started to take interest in what was going on outside the car, even wagging his tail. Nick and Victoria were naturally confused. ‘We can’t put a dog to sleep who is showing such signs of life,’ but sadly it didn’t last long and by the time they got to the surgery, he had weakened considerable – and of course, the fact remained, he had renal failure. He couldn’t survive without a constant drip and even then, probably not for long. He would eventually suffer more. As he lay in Victoria’s arms, and just before the dreaded needle went into his little leg, his cloudy eyes suddenly cleared and he looked at her – right at her - with his beautiful bright eyes and seemed to be saying, ‘thankyou.’ And then he was gone. Nick cried, Victoria cried, Louise, our kind vet, cried. It’s not often a vet cries, you know. Scupper was only 10 months old.
Place du Casino, Monte Carlo
Scupper's ashes will be buried, and a tree planted over him, in his favourite place near to the small lake on the Aveyron property. When Scupper wasn’t following Neptune about, he’d be found here, sitting for hours watching and chasing the frogs.
Why Scupper? God – or whoever is in charge! – why does a gorgeous little puppy like Scupper have to die? Take an old dog, God! Don't take Scupper. Do the good die young? Well Scupper was young – too young – and he was more than a good dog, an exceptional dog who brightened the lives of everyone who met him. The only consolation - hardly that - is that whatever happened to him: a bite or poison or even the wrong medication, he was doing what he loved – running about the countryside following his best friend Neptune.
Aveyron in winter
It’s strange how some dogs have such an effect on you. Scupper, as I said, only stayed here two or three times but I’ll never forget him. That was the effect he had on people. He was a one in a million dog.
Oh Scupper, we miss you. I'm just mad as all hell that you died, that's all. Mad as all hell. If I could write poetry, Scupper, I'd write a poem for you - to you – but I can’t write poetry. You deserve a poem, Scupper - hell, you deserve a life! A life, longer than 10 short months.
I hope little Scupper is playing with Bosun now, in doggy heaven, and introducing him to the delights of chasing frogs. You know, I have a strong feeling he is.