Opinion: Loss of a dog can hurt more than loss of a subsidy

I planned to write this column about the government’s new consultation on “paying farmers to retire”.

On the basis that it is just going to be a prepayment of money they will get even if they don’t retire, I think it’s a really practical idea.

My only improvement would be that the claimants should be required to have a small tattoo with “I claimed £x in benefits” on their forehead before they get the money.

See also: Lump sum payments of up to £100,000 revealed by Defra

About the author

Matthew Naylor
Farmers Weekly Opinion writer
Matt Naylor is managing director of Naylor Flowers, growing 300ha of cut flowers in Lincolnshire for supermarkets. He is a director of Concordia, a charity that operates the Seasonal Worker Scheme, and was one of the founders of Agrespect, an initiative to drive equality, diversity and inclusion in agriculture.
Read more articles by Matthew Naylor

“But what if the claimant has a fringe?” you ask. Don’t worry, I’ve thought of that.

Obviously, their tattoo would need to be made on their neck instead, to ensure it was visible (and as a petty punishment for retired people who still have hair).

What do you mean, you are glad that I never entered politics?

Upside down

I was going to write the whole column about that, but then something happened that turned our world upside down and subsidies are the last thing on my mind.

Over the space of the past couple of days, my boyfriend and I both lost our dogs.

His was put to sleep as an act of kindness after a long life, and mine died suddenly and unexpectedly aged 11.

The shock hasn’t yet dissolved, but as many of you will be dog owners, I want to try to put into words the void that I am already feeling just a few days in.

I cannot think of any other relationship as pure and uncomplicated as the one between a dog and its owner.

A great dog becomes so attuned to your thoughts and emotional needs that it becomes more like an extension of yourself.

Losing that is a different grief to the one that you feel when a close friend or family member dies.

Something missing

It is more like losing a finger; the sensation that something is missing is felt almost continuously throughout the day.

Before I got a dog, I would never have believed the wellbeing that comes from having a companion who, unconditionally, wants to always be near you at all times.

I rarely took that for granted and I already I feel vulnerable without it.

They say you only get one really good dog in your life and, if that’s true, then I’ve had mine.

Wooster was a Norwich terrier and so cheerful that he was a constant source of joy.

He had all the virtues of a terrier – energy, mischief and portability – but without the “running off and biting your friends’ children” part.

Wonderfully trusting

He was never aggressive and was wonderfully trusting.

He never looked happier than when he was shaking the living daylights out of a furry toy, but if he saw a hare or a muntjac in the garden, he would walk up to it curiously like he was meeting a new friend.

He had the wonderful life that he deserved and it is a big consolation that he never had a non-routine visit to the vets.

On Saturday night, after a day of playing in the garden with my sister’s dog, he jumped energetically on to the bed, trembled briefly, and then died, suddenly and peacefully.

How sad that we never fully appreciate those things for which we should be most thankful until we no longer have them.

But maybe that applies to the farm payments, too…

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