The first thing I notice each morning is the silence. Since my nine year old Staffy, George died from cancer a few weeks ago, I’m no longer woken by the sound of him scratching at the door, agitating to be let into the bedroom.

There’s so much silence now that my boy has gone. The mellow rumble of his breath as he snoozed on his favourite chair. The whispery rustle of his tail against my legs – a deliberate ploy to let ‘daddy’ know it was surely time for a treat or a playful tumble.

Such was the space George occupied in my home – in my life – that the void he leaves is massive. I look around expecting to see him waiting patiently as I have a shower, or trotting beside me as I go down the drive to retrieve the morning paper from our letter box.

You see, save for time spent in court, he was almost always at my side: be it a trip to the accountant, the barbers or out on the golf course. George even sat in on some meetings (client permitting). In the passenger seat of my car, George would place a paw on my arm as we drove along together. De-stressing in front of the television after a busy day, George would come and find me, snaking his legs possessively around me.
But that chapter is over – just 12 weeks after my dog was diagnosed with a rapidly growing and inoperable tumour wedged between his lungs and his heart.

It’s not that I’m struggling with the decision to have George put down. In his final days he could barely catch his breath. His rasping cough a heart breaking reminder that cancer was winning. When a storm blew in the night before his passing, I was awoken by an angry clap of thunder. I wondered if the heavens were giving me a sign. I knew death would be a relief for him.

George was an extraordinary dog – intuitive, playful, loyal and so, so demonstrative. Even when we went to the vet for that final appointment, he flirtatiously licked the nurse’s hand as she positioned the cannula that would help drain his life away. With his glorious russet red coat and elegantly masculine build, he was still the pup I’d first set eyes o at the age of just four months old,

On the journey to the vet I hadn’t let George know my heart was breaking. Instead, I told him we were going for ‘walkies’ and that afterwards there’d be roast chicken – the words triggering an appreciative twitch of his ears. If my loyal boy knew I was lying, his keen intelligent eyes gave little away.

Mercifully the ending was swift and peaceful. I lay down beside him, murmuring words of encouragement as he held my gaze . Then he was gone.

For a few minutes I held onto his warm body – George was such a beautiful dog. But there was no overwhelming grief. Fathomless sadness, yes. Yet an unshakable belief that I’d done the right thing.

Back home the house looked as if George had just stepped out. I knew then that I needed to clear away his things – his bed, his toys, his favourite towels and all those tins of dog food. They’re in the garage ready to go to a deserving home

Anyone who has lost a much loved pet will know how it feels when they slip away from your life. I’m grateful that I have the kind of career that is all absorbing. When I’m knee deep in work, my focus is unshakable. I can switch off to everything except winning the case. But in the margins of my life the desolation is profound.

George and I spent hours walking around Cheshire. Coming home after a long day – especially when victory had been mine in the courtroom – there was no better feeling than shrugging off my suit, pulling on a tracksuit and plunging with my dog into the fields around our home

Every journey felt like an adventure. We’d idle by fences as he snuffled around hedgerows or paused to watch the stags and deer. Now as I march smartly around Tatton I go through the motions but – for the moment – the adventure has gone.

Inevitably well meaning sympathisers have asked when – not if – I’ll get a new dog. One day I will. Without one I feel incomplete. But that ‘s in the uplands, somewhere in the future. For now I want to savour the sweet memories of a boy called George. How I miss him.