Such sad times today...old Toby, the donkey, laid down and went to sleep...she died very peacefully lying in the sunshine in the doorway to the stable she shared with Neddy and Jack...

I bought Toby from some neighbours many years ago when we'd noticed they never had her feet trimmed...I did ask them why and they said it was because she wouldn't stand still...but she grew used to Paddy coming and would stand quietly while he trimmed and neatened up her poor old feet...always misshapen from years of neglect.

Toby's overall condition didn't improve much...she always looked as though she was about to expire at any minute and her coat didn't grow thick anymore...but she became friendly and let us rub her nose and she adored squashy pears. She'd eat them with the juice running down her chin and an expression of sheer bliss on her face.

She could never walk very far...one afternoon when I was bringing her back from the field down the road she simply lay down in the middle of the road and refused to move. It was after that we kept her at home and when the days were fine and sunny she went out into our little field where she'd spend the afternoons dozing in the sun.

We think she must have been at least forty years old if not older...the neighbours had bought her sometime before and I suspect she'd been moved about from home to home. She was so afraid and nervous of being touched...it took a long time of patiently talking to her with an out-stretched hand before she'd let us touch her.

Now the nasty part of losing a big animal...the dead man has to come to take her away. He can't come until tomorrow either. His lorry is so horrible...filthy dirty and it stinks appallingly because he always has it heaped with dead cows and other farm animals. I know it doesn't matter because Toby has gone and it's just her old body left behind that she doesn't need anymore...but I wish there was another way...I wish we could bury her down by the river in a sunny spot. But that's just being silly.

And Stinky Dinky has gone as well...Himself took her to the vets this morning because the poor old dog was crying every time she moved. I don't know whether she'd hurt herself falling into the ditch yesterday or whether it was something else making her cry but she was so distressed and unhappy...she'd been wetting herself for the past couple of weeks and couldn't get in and out of her bed without such a struggle.

We hadn't wanted her. My friend Maureen asked would we take her because her owner was going into hospital and wasn't expected to come out again...so I agreed very reluctantly...Dinky would bite savagely...not nip...but really bite very hard if you tried to pick her up or groom her or touched her anywhere except the top of her head which she didn't mind and would tolerate.

She was quite a character...but not what you'd call a nice pet to have...not really. Heaven only knows the kind of life she'd led to make her the way she was...I did spoil her a bit though because I felt sorry for her never being able to be picked up and cuddled the way we do with the other little dogs...so I used to give her a biscuit or a crisp and tell her not to tell the others...

The vet couldn't find a vein to inject her because all her veins had collapsed...poor old girl. She said she was very old considering the state of her remaining teeth...she didn't have many left and those were fairly rotten.

Himself brought her home and has buried her beneath the willow trees...