Sausage breakfast for Pogo?

The master at playing dead

Andrew Howells
5 min readAug 5, 2022


Pogo on the stairs. There’s a ball in that cavernous mouth somewhere.

The home phone call last week, while on holiday, wasn’t entirely unexpected. Situations, minor or otherwise, rarely go unreported. Today it was Pogo’s turn. Not so minor. He couldn’t or wouldn’t get up. The only good news, if you can say that — we were due back the next day.

This had happened before. I was in the US last time, also on holiday, when the disturbing news came through that Pogo’s walk had abruptly ended, he could no longer walk at all. He’d been chasing a ball with all the mad, sinew straining vigour, he always put into a chase, before flipping over in the long, summer, straw-like grass. A small dip in the field, unnoticed at speed, had been enough for balance to temporarily desert him . He’d done it many times before, as dogs do. This time was different. His head did not bob-up, shaking the dust and straw off his back, this time, there was no movement at all.

Poor Pogo

A week’s stay at the vet hospital on a catheter revealed that he’d twisted himself badly enough to damage some of the nerve-endings in his back. Once home, we spent the next 6 weeks carrying his lifeless backend around in a sling.

His right leg showed signs of recovery first, and the almost daily progress made up for his dead left one, which he continued to drag behind like a rag doll. The constant friction meant he had to wear a rubber doggie shoe, protecting his paw from rubbing raw.

Everyone was glad when signs of life returned and he started to pick his dolly up. No more bending down looking intently in the dew sodden morning grass for lost shoes which he’d somehow managed to slip.


A dog that can no longer stand is a dog in trouble. The guilt-wrenching problem for owners, apart from a long, loving relationship which can’t last forever, is they’re often showing signs of being very much alive. Despite this, we’re forced to play god and call time. It feels like betrayal.

59% of UK households own a dog, that’s 14% higher than a decade earlier. It equates to roughly 12.5m dogs in the UK, of which 80,000 die every year from lethal…



Andrew Howells

Writer, male, London. Enough time to tell stories