A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday March 20th 2022
On Thursday, Isis and I meet up with Bev and Nancy. Bev tells me how poor Rufus became more and more ill as they waited to take him for his apppointment, and when they arrived, he was unable to stand and had to be carried from the car to the surgery. The vet diagnosed cancer of the spleen, which is usually an indication that metastasis has taken place, that is, the cancer has spread from other infected parts of the body.
I’m not surprised when told that Nancy has not been herself since Rufus failed to return from the vet’s. She’s a year younger than her brother, and has rarely been separated from him. Some time ago, when he was absent for a while, she thought she was alone in the house, and howled like a banshee until Bev came down from the attic to ‘rescue’ her!
Now, apparently, she has lost all her energy, is very droopy, uninterested in what’s going on, and just wants to sleep. On walks, she’s been very clingy, and not wanted to leave her human’s side.
It’s clear that she’s pleased to see us, and wants plenty of strokes and pats. She also moves several metres away from her person and busies herself with some serious sniffing.
Rufus has always been Hairy One’s mentor and protector, while, apart from running alongside her brother as he performed his usual hearty greeting, Nancy didn’t show much interest in her.
But as we are preparing to leave Highbury, Nancy comes up to Isis and gently licks her face. And Isis, very uncharacteristically, doesn’t turn her head away.
Just as well Isis, because you only have one friend left now!
A couple of weeks ago, I am honoured with a unique gesture from my dog. Generally, when I join her on the day bed in the evening, she is snoozing snugly in my preferred spot. Nowadays, she no longer growls at me as I sit next to her, but moves away towards the other end of the bed. When she’s feeling affectionate, she shifts herself against my legs, and stays there, sleeping close to me, as long as I keep still. If I twitch a toe, she’ll express her displeasure with a low growl. She takes her sleeping time very seriously, and is not pleased to be disturbed – except when it’s last visit to the garden time, which she knows is a prelude to bedtime treats.
Almost invariably, she faces away from me, although often she’ll position her tail, with a soft ‘flumph’ on my lap. On this particular night, though, she does something very different: as I slide in behind her, she turns to face me, then wriggles towards my face until her nose is almost touching my chin; then she huffs a contented sigh up my nose, and sleeps soundly for at least an hour.
I am so touched, so enchanted by this unheard of gesture that I daren’t move a centimetre.
Outside the house, although she is no longer terrified when people or other dogs approach her, she is still anxious, and moves away immediately.
Only with Bev is she relaxed enough to stand still and accept being stroked, and she’ll not take even the most tempting treat from anyone else.
Similarly, there are only three other dogs – all males – of whom she’s not afraid.
The good news for March is that the nocturnal barking has faded away, and we’ve come to an understanding regarding her feeding times.
We are both very calm now. When invited with gentle pats, she walks into the kitchen in a dignified manner, and, prompted by the lightest of touches to her back, sits politely by her bowl until given the ‘eat it’ signal.
However much I try, it is impossible to black out every scrap of morning light, so I retire to another room and leave her to it. Now and then while eating, she barks at the light, but when she’s done, she walks away contentedly: there’s no craziness, no twirling or biting off swatches of her fur.
At present, it’s dark by dog’s teatime, and while she eats, all that can be heard is a steady munching.