Thursday, 3 March 2011

Dog News

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Quite soon, I shall talk about something else apart from my dog. Not today though.

We went back to the vet. The very dear sister came for moral support. (I tried to let her off the hook, because the poor brother-in-law has agonising tendonitis, but she ruthlessly deserted him, choosing dog over husband, as is of course quite correct.)

The good news: the Duchess is responding very well to the drugs, and the heart sounds better. She is well in herself, eating, with a bright eye and a wet nose.

The bad news: for all that, she does have Congestive Heart Failure. The vet, very responsibly, will not give me any kind of time frame. He says it is very good to get a Lab cross to twelve, and I inferred that all time now is a bonus.

Oddly, after the storm of sadness that hit me on Tuesday, I am now determined and focussed. All dogs have a finite life. I am going to give her the best diet, the most suitable exercise regime, the highest tender loving care. She is very lucky in that she has this beautiful place to live in, with gentle walks, and woods to roam in, and a hundred thrilling scents to sniff at. She has her devoted sister, who, touch wood, seems to be in roaring good health.

And, she appears to have the love of the entire dear readership. I said to my sister: 'If the love coming out of the internet has anything to do with it, she would live forever.'

Now for the pictures. It's a glum old day today, the glorious sunshine of yesterday quite forgotten, but there were still amazing colours, and the snowdrops and crocuses continue to bloom, and the birds go on singing their merry song.

Seagulls, flying past my favourite little beech tree:

3rd March 1

Trees and hills:

3rd March 2

The bare branches still look like glorious sculptures to me:

3rd March 4-1

Or impressionist paintings:


The colours along the beech avenue still amaze:

3rd March 7

And do not forget the lichen:

3rd March 6

The lovely, graceful viburnum, with the dear old shed in the background:

3rd March 8

The now mandatory snowdrops:

3rd March 12

The Older Niece's dog, who came for a morning visit:

3rd March 9

My beloved Duchess:

3rd March 10

3rd March 11

You can see where she got her nickname from. For those of you just tuning in, she is not actually called The Duchess. For some reason, when I started featuring the dogs on the blog, I did not want to give their real names. I felt that they deserved some privacy, which is of course nuts, but seemed important at the time. So they became known by the nicknames which the Younger Niece gave them. The Duchess is so called because she is so damn aristocratic, really the grandest person I have ever met. The Pigeon is called The Pigeon because she is so soft and adorable, and the Younger Niece used to croon at her: oh my bird, my pigeon. For no known reason, this was always said in a West Country accent. Apologies to everyone in the West Country: we have no idea if you do in fact use pigeon as a term of endearment. I rather hope someone in Somerset does, but I cannot be sure.

And here is the dear old Pidge, at her sweet, gazing best:

3rd March 13

3rd March 14

They are both dozing at my feet as I write this, curled up together like two apostrophes, dreaming, I hope, of squirrels and rabbits.

And finally, today's hill, almost lost in the low cloud:

3rd March 4


  1. I absolutely cling on to any story I hear about a cat that's reached 18, 23, even older - because I so hope mine will be one of those! It's always struck me as sad that we have these companions in our lives, and we know to expect to lose them. It seems very unfair.

    Anyway, here's to many, many more happy and healthy days for you and the Duchess (and the Pigeon!). You write so beautifully about your life, your home and your lovely dogs that I feel quite well-qualified to say she's got a life to be envied!

    (my grandmother used to dote on her dogs so much that my mother grew up thinking 'a dog's life' meant one of luxury! I like that very much.)

  2. Highest tender loving care sounds like the perfect recipe to celebrate the good news and cope with the not so good - many many good wishes
    ps. love hannah's comment about her mother thinking a dog's life meant one of luxury...
    liz from Paris

  3. My darling - I'm just catching up on your last few days. I know we're meant to prepare ourselves for our pets to go to the big dog park in the sky but how can we really? I'm happy she's perky again & has the loveliest life with you and Pigeon. xx

  4. Hannah - what an incredibly kind comment. I SO agree about the dog's life. I always think it is one of high delight.

    Liz - so glad you agree about the dog's life, and thank you for your good wishes.

    So Lovely - am always so pleased to hear yr voice, and thank you for those very kind words. :)

  5. Oh.. so glad the Duchess is feeling better and hope she'll feel that way until right up to the end. I have a 15-y-o cat. She's aloof but kind, and has always done her own thing; sometimes disappearing for days on end. But this winter, she's been very close, and I can't help but wonder if this might be a herald of... something. On the flora front, a lone narcissus stands merrily bobbing in the cruel wind; the Bise that so often blows this time of year. It's either a brave little thing, or suicidal. ;)

  6. That last picture of Pigeon...she seems to know more than she did last week. Amazing picture. I am so glad the Duchess has you both right now.

  7. Wonderful news about the Duchess!

  8. Imogene - thank you so much for your kind wishes. I hope your dear old cat stays well.

    Susan - I know exactly what you mean. Something in the eyes.

    Fidgety Pilgrim - thank you so much. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  9. The Duchess and the Pigeon are both beautiful - thanks for another gorgeous, reflective post.

    On an unrelated note, I recently went to Nottingham and was delighted that around 5 people called me "my duck". There were even rubber ducks in the hotel bathroom, in a tribute to this local endearment.

  10. I agree that in the last picture of the Pigeon she looks like she knows what is going on.
    Please give your darling girls a big hug from me. They are in the right home.

  11. TLC the best medicine ever invented!

  12. I have been away from blog reading for a while and am just now catching up. I went through this with my White Devil (also not his real name) not too long ago, when he was suffering from end-stage kidney disease. After a stay in the hospital, he did much better, and we were grateful for the time we had left with him. We loved him so much. And I was especially grateful for the kindness of other people who seemed to understand that we were losing a family member. Like Hannah, I find it incredibly sad that we love them so much but inevitably lose them. Cruel, even.

    The thing that helps the most is knowing that we did everything we could for our cat, and that his last weeks were happy and full of his favorite things and as comfortable as we could make them. He spent hours each evening on my husband's lap. Animals have no sense of passage of time, or of the inevitability of death, and so to give them days and weeks and months of peace and comfort and love seems to be the best thing we can possibly do for them. I know Duchess has that.

  13. I am really glad the Duchess is reacting so well to her treatment: she looks today just as auguste as ever.

    I look forward to lots more new poses of the two most lovely sisters and will enjoy them now even more!

    Thank you for sharing it all with us - what you told your sister made me teary eyed. XX

  14. Rosie - LOVE the Nottingham ducks.

    Em - you are so sweet. I shall.

    Tattie Weasel - I really think it is. :)

    Staircase Witch - what an absolutely lovely comment; thank you.

    Cristina - such a kind comment; thank you so much. There WILL be many more pictures, never fear.

  15. Eating, wet nose, bright eyes and still scrounging in the kitchen - this is the checklist on the dog health barometer in our house (with the elderly Basset)! Glad to hear the heart pills are helping - hope you have the meat-flavoured ones...

  16. Jennifer J - you are brilliant; you've just reminded me it's time for the nightly tablet. And yes, they ARE the meat-flavoured ones, and seem to go down pretty well.

  17. Devoted (but normally silent) reader sending much love and thanks for the beauty of your writing and photographs, which so clearly show the life of high delight your love and care are giving your gorgeous Duchess and adorable Pigeon. Long may you all flourish.

  18. Quine - what a lovely devoted reader you are, and I am so glad you are silent no longer. :)

  19. Dear Tania, that's wonderful news about the Duchess.

    My neighbour nearly lost his terrier recently. It was during the snow and he fell into the pond trying to retrieve a large bone. They thought they'd lost him as he's fourteen and might not have survived the freezing water but he recovered. They changed his diet to fresh food and he's like a brand new dog. I do think diet makes a huge difference, although I'm sure yours have an exemplary one already. My dad swears by some extra virgin olive oil in their food and a crushed clove of garlic, which apparently is great for their breath.

    Your dogs are lucky to have someone as lovely as you to look after them xx

  20. Christina - such a very kind and lovely thing to say. They do already get olive oil, and have good dry food, but I am definitely going to take your advice and get some good fresh things as well. Also shall try your dad's garlic. :)

  21. Glad to hear the Duchess is responding to treatment and that she's happier. Take care of yourself and your beautiful girls.

  22. Thinking of you all of course (apologies for the tardy) and couldn't agree more about the bonus time, Fig the cat is now 19 and we just enjoy every day with him. I honestly don't think you could be in a better or more tranquil place for both the darling Ladyships.
    Keep on keeping on, am sending all good thoughts and things north.

  23. Glad to hear Duchess is responding to treatment. I'm sure you will all enjoy whatever time she has left.

  24. Mona - thank you so much. I will.

    Anne - what a lovely comment. Enchanted by the idea of Fig the Cat. It's such a great name, and a tremendous age.

    Amarinthine - you are kind, and I promise you we will.


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