Posted by Tania Kindersley.
My alpha vet calls.
Brighter today, he says. Drinking water, he says. But still will not eat.
I don’t like the not eating. I am an Italian mamma at heart; I believe everything can be cured by food. (Do Italian mothers really believe that? In my mind, they all, every last woman of them, react to heartbreak and disaster by cooking up a storm. I do so hope it is a tiny bit true.)
Well, the vet says, it will have hurt a lot, so she is just protecting herself.
I hate the thought of the poor little Pidge having to protect her agonised stomach.
The drips and drugs continue to do their work. She is staying in dog hospital for the rest of the day. I might get her home tonight.
A house without a dog in it is an odd place. I have a vague sense memory that this is how I used to live: in still, silent rooms. I love the silence of an empty room. Apart from a bit of flatshare with my old friend Soph, the one who now lives in California, and a moment when the Man of Letters was temporarily homeless and stayed at my place, I have always lived alone. I like being by myself. I never even thought of having a dog in London because it was London. I was bred a farm girl; I thought animals belonged in muddy fields and deep woods. Also, I was travelling a lot, in an unpredictable, whimsical way. Now, I practically plan a week in advance to go to Aberdeen; in those days, I would catch a plane to New York on half a day’s notice, just because someone asked.
I had forgotten, rather, about all that, since my little house has been filled with canine for the last ten years. I wondered if it might feel like a liberation, a throwback to that younger, wilder self. At last, I can sleep till noon, and go to St Petersburg and Petra, and not find myself on my hands and knees at six in the morning, clearing up sick.
Turns out, it does not feel like that. I just think, like a baffled six year old: where is my dog?
It’s all very well, this vet hospital treatment thing. It’s all very well, the belt and braces approach. But I need my old girl back now. The bed’s too big without her.
Thank you thank you for the astonishing outpouring of kindness. I know that some of you have lost beloved animals recently, and know all about this. (Fig and Bonnie are two of the Dear Readers’ menagerie, who have most sadly gone the way of The Duchess.) It does amaze me that the biggest response I ever get, on any subject under the sun, no matter how controversial, is always when something is wrong with the dogs. It’s so interesting to me. Maybe it’s because when I write about cooking or gardening there’s not really that much to say. With politics, the issues are often difficult to hack through, or delicately balanced, and those little comment boxes are not necessarily the place for a detailed ideological discussion.
But the dog thing is very simple. Anyone who has had a cat or dog knows their unerring ability to creep into your heart and stay there. There is no defence against animal love; it is visceral and instinctive. There are no compromises or caveats. There is no reading between the lines. There is no: We have to talk. There is just blatant, straightforward, no strings attached, blazing LOVE. And everyone who has ever experienced that knows what it is like and so can sigh a sigh of recognition.
I was talking to one of my dearest friends the other day about the difference between dogs and humans. I said to her: imagine if, when you came home, your husband jumped up and down with joy, and then hurled himself on his back with his legs in the air, and then licked you all over. (I should say that her husband does a very serious and grown-up job.) She paused for a moment. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘But he does.’