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The Cleaver

06 Apr 2024 6 minute read
Kate Cleaver

Kate Cleaver

A bit of writing about being neurodivergent, disabled, ethnic and a widow in Wales.

When Roland died the bottom fell out of my world. All the plans and dreams, gone in twenty minutes. I held him and loved him and now all I can do is miss him.

Except that I have not been doing so well in terms of my own health. I slipped while  looking after myself, and the result was two days in hospital and two units of blood.

I’m still not right but I came too close to joining my husband. Much too close.

I promised Roland that I would live, and he would be awful annoyed if I turned up too soon.

So, that has been the last month’s task to find a way to carry on, because I wasn’t.


My friends gathered and my family and they supported me. I was taken to and from the hospital and left alone rarely.

The reality though was that I couldn’t exist off cream cheese and honey sandwiches when I have a chronic illness.

Oddly when Roland was alive, I never saw it as looking after me, I was looking after him.

Now, though I was not able to find the motivation. There was no drive to cook. I was keeping the house clean, so it appeared that I was coping fine, but that was just appearances.

I created the right plumage and people thought it showed how I was adapting. The reality is that I wasn’t.

Kate and Pads

Then, as I was in hospital getting my two units, my social media spammed me with a rescue dog. A little white creature with far too much hair and quiet eyes.

It wasn’t the dog that got me interested though, it was his name.

Roland and I had a special significance with yellow, not the colour but the word. It has woven into our whole lives in one way or another and there was this dog, named Yellow.

I stopped scrolling and looked. He was too old, too hairy and too abandoned. This dog had never been in a house and never been taught anything.

He wasn’t house trained, and he had no idea about training.

“He is so wrong,” I said to Roland, who now sits above the TV.

He didn’t answer but the dog cropped up a week later, without a home.

“He is older than I wanted,” I say. “Not house-trained…”

But there was the name. I called a friend and asked her if she wanted to go see the dog. She is very pro-dog, being a multiple Rottweiler owner, so she jumped at the chance.

Sad eyes

We headed to a local rescue called Many Tears, both of us braced for dogs with sad eyes and big hearts.

We saw them all. When you turn up you get a ‘walk-through’ which means you see every dog.

Yellow wasn’t barking. He sat as a pup chewed his ear; his face more resigned than anything. He didn’t snap as he was pushed out the way by another bouncy dog.

I placed my hand against the bars, and he gave a quick lick.

There we are then, I thought.

Back at reception I asked to see him again.

“Do you want to walk him?”

Sure, I said, and I was handed a lead and the dog. He looked like a walking hairy table. Much shorter than I imagined.

He is a Samoyed cross with a poodle, all I can say is it must have been a small poodle. He just about reached my knee. He walked and ignored us.

“Is he deaf?” I asked my friend.

We went back to reception and tested his hearing in an enclosed yard. He heard but he had simply stopped responding to people. He was shutdown.


We threw balls and he chased them, although he never retrieved them. He started to show a little curiosity and he played. He was gentle and the longer we spent with him the more he came out of his shell.

“I can work with him,” I said.

“If you don’t, I’ll take him,” my friend said.

We handed back the smelly dog with too much hair and sad eyes and I went home. What followed was a little whirlwind of activity. I applied for him and then they wanted to see the house.

It passed except the garden which was a mass of rubble and building material. I put a call out to my family in Swansea and they turned up.

Five and a half hours later I had a garden and a working back gate. I passed the house test. Now all I needed to do was fetch the dog.

I did.


My pup arrived smelly and very uncertain. He had never been in a house and had never seen anything like where he was. He became my shadow. If I was there, he wanted to be there.

I had already asked when he was walked and when he was fed. I simply stuck to those times. He settled well.

He went to the groomers and came back a tiny dog, almost losing half his size in the hair cutting process. The odd thing was my transformation.

Pads at home


The grief became worse because I could no longer pretend that my husband was working upstairs in the office. Not with a dog sitting next to me on the sofa.

It hit me hard, but the fact Pads was there meant I wasn’t alone. My day has taken on a routine and that has meant I am looking after myself better.

Sure, Pads has his problems and, in many ways, being disabled and trying to look after a dog is difficult.

He may not get as many walks as he ought, but we do play, and he loves nothing better than sitting in the sun and chewing a large bone.

We are both adapting, and I think that in the future we will be a team. I have noticed that we like each other’s company, so I know that, even with a little work, our team is going to be a good one.

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1 month ago

It sounds wrong and inadequate but I love this. I don’t know how else to say it though.

1 month ago
Reply to  JulieB

(I think what I really meant to say was ‘wow’ – but that doesn’t seem right either. Sending love.)

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