Posted by Tania Kindersley.
It turns out that the Duchess's heart is failing.
We had a crazed night last night with retching and snorting and the throwing up of white foam. If the emergency vet on call had not been the most senior and august of the vets, of whom I am slightly frightened, I would have woken him at four am. At one point, I thought perhaps she had really bad indigestion or stomach acid, and found myself grinding up Gaviscon tablets in the kitchen with a rolling pin at quarter to five and trying to work out a way to get them inside her.
We managed about two hours' sleep and then drove up to the vet. It's congestive heart failure. It's age. It's what happens.
There are pills and medications, but the vet will not yet give me a prognosis. The poor dog has been stuck with injections to treat her symptoms now (fluid on the lungs, which apparently is a thing that happens) and she is dopey and sleeping. I am to take her back on Thursday, when the situation will become clearer.
I stupidly went on the internet. Everyone says: DON'T GO ON THE INTERNET, and they are right. It said awful things like six months to live. I am refusing to believe that. I am planning special heart diets and heart supplements and a heart regimen. The older niece, who is a nutritionist, is already on the case.
I wish I could say I was being tremendously butch and stoical about this, but I am not. I was never a dog person, and I spend quite a lot of time pretending I am still not. I just happen to have these two who are so beautiful and charming and funny and affectionate that I fell for them. But the truth is, I am like one of those crazy old women with the dogs and the piles of yellowing newspapers who never go on holiday because they will not leave the canines. I can't say oh well, it's just a dog, because it is not. It's an absolutely huge love that comes rolling down the track like a runaway train. So when the sad news comes, I am left quite without defences.
The family is rallying round like Trojans. The sister and the older niece and the Man in the Hat happened to walk past just as we returned from the vet, and caught me crying. I was rather embarrassed since the poor MITH has never seen me weep before. I do not do it in the attractive, misty way of the Hollywood actress, but in the noisy, snotty way of a six year old child. My face looks like salami and everything goes red and blotchy. It is not something that anyone should have to witness. They did not seem to care (how's that for unconditional?) but surrounded me with love, and we all lay on the grass for a while in the sun, which has the first of the spring heat in it, and even managed to make jokes, once I had recovered myself. The dear brother-in-law rings up to make sure we are all right.
It's not one of the big life tragedies. As I endlessly say to myself, there are worse things happening in Chad. (I do not know why I always say Chad; it just scans well.) But it is a great love, and I'm not shy about admitting that, and, as with all pure loves, it carries the seeds of sorrow in it.
The sun shone all day, but I have no pictures of it for you. I spent the time with my dog.