Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A day of ups and downs

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

A day of astonishing highs and lows. I like to think that I am tremendously sensible most of the time, have perhaps learnt something from the forty-four years on the earth, that my love of the trees and the hills might in some ways act as a great grounding mechanism. And yet I can still get knocked off course so hard that I can hardly catch my breath. I suppose a bit of fragility is a good thing in some ways; it makes one humble. But sometimes I do look with envy at those swaggery people who seem able to shrug off the slings and arrows. They merely ruffle their feathers like ducks, and off spills the water. I take things stupidly to heart.

I wonder also if it is that all the emotions are still very raw and near the surface. I find myself with sudden memories of my dad and my dog; I think of the dear departed cousin; I fear for the ailing godfather. It’s life; it happens to everyone; but still.

My high, because there must always be a ray of sunshine, is, slightly oddly, a visit to the vet. I admit this is not serious politics or grave economics or the state of the nation. It was tiny and unimportant in that old great scheme of things, but it was so lovely that I must relate it.

It started off in the most mundane way possible. The Pigeon needed her nails clipped. (She occasionally has a little problem with her dewclaws.) I brushed her and made sure she looked smart and put on her best black leather lead. The first enchantment was that the receptionist fell in love with her, came out from behind the desk, and fed the Pidge an endless supply of gravy bones. At which point, you may imagine, the love became mutual.

Then we went in to see the vet. He was a very nice, very capable Irish fellow. The clipping was done with efficiency and sympathy. He was most understanding about the fact that my old girl hates having her paws messed with, and did not hold it against her. (She makes piteous mewing noises and looks up with terrible pleading make it stop eyes.)

Then I asked him about the exercise. I told him of our ride yesterday, and wondered if I should confine her to very short walks, commensurate with her great age. ‘She loves it,’ I said. ‘She has always been a very active dog, and I do not want to treat her as a geriatric. But I do not want to over-tax her.’

He said to look out for stiffness. He tested her joints and her back legs. Not a hint of arthritis; as much mobility in her legs as he might find in a young dog.

‘She’s not on any medication?’ he said, in amazement, when I told him she was thirteen.
‘No,’ I said. ‘Nothing at all.’

He stared at her in blatant admiration. ‘She’s in incredible shape,’ he said.

This is the kind of thing my own vet does not say. Up where I live, there is the good, serious, flintiness of the North-East. Incredible is not a word much used. I love my vet, but he is a man of understatement.

The kind Irishman said again: ‘No medication at all?’

‘Really not,’ I said. ‘I’ve been very lucky with her. She’s a tough old girl. We lost her sister in the summer, and I was very worried about her, but she has bounced back like a Trojan.’

He nodded. ‘Take your cue from her,’ he said. ‘As long as she enjoys going out, let her run for as long as she wants.’

He pulled her ears, and gave her a treat. She gazed at him with her limpid eyes.

‘I’d say you’ve got a few more years with her yet,’ he said.

I wanted to fall at his feet with gratitude. Of course this may be over-optimism. At this age, anything can happen. I know each day is precious. But I have been thinking lately, in my secret heart, that I don’t know what I should do without her. It has been haunting me, a bit. I know that just because this thing was said, it will not necessarily be so. But to hear a professional gentleman state it in such a matter of fact way did feel like an unexpected present, and I do not take that for granted.

Rather few pictures today, I'm afraid, what with one thing and another, and not terribly stellar ones either. Please forgive.

Little bit of autumn colour for you:

15 Nov 1 13-11-2011 16-00-42

15 Nov 4 13-11-2011 16-04-12

15 Nov 5 13-11-2011 16-05-18

15 Nov 6 13-11-2011 16-04-30.ORF

And her glorious ladyship, a little bit blurry in the evening light, showing off her new manicure:

15 Nov 1 15-11-2011 19-10-07

15 Nov 10 15-11-2011 19-10-33.ORF

And doing her slightly wistful Grace Kelly impersonation:

15 Nov 8 15-11-2011 19-07-45

That one always makes me laugh. It looks so affecting and almost melancholy; in fact, it is the face she puts on when she is bored to death of posing and is wondering when I shall stop and give her a biscuit.

P.S. Meant to say: am offline for the next 48 hours. Shall return, I would love to say in glory, more likely in usual ordinariness, on Friday.


  1. Viva the Pigeon and her splendid shape!!! The one that took the southern vet by surprise today, and the one we have the priviledge to linger on and admire daily with great affection.
    Really wonderful news.
    And she looks delightful in her pictures tonight, all groomed and settled just like a little girl fed and clean and ready for her bedtime story. Enjoy her!! :)

    (And let THE THING go to hell.)


  2. Cristina - what an absolutely lovely comment. Can't thank you enough. Just what was needed. :)

  3. I second Viva The Pigeon!!! Wonderful, wonderful news. xxx

  4. Em - you are lovely. Viva viva the Pigeon; I so second that emotion.

  5. Hooray for beautiful Pigeon, what a lovely story, it made me a bit teary (in a good way). I have been thinking alot lately how incredibly well she looks. Viva viva the Pigeon.

  6. These last few months, your hesitant fear (yes, the Pigeon is healthy, but she's 13 after all, what if something happened, I just couldn't face it, not now at any rate, it would hurt too much) has been apparent. How could it not be? But today, how lovely it is to feel your joy! The Pigeon's special charm comes across so well in your photos that I feel like I know her, so that smile is shared. Sure, anything could happen---but ain't it grand that even the experts don't expect that it will happen tomorrow or the next day?

    Sorry about The Thing, but your High was much more important than your Low today. ;-))


  7. We always are fearful for our loved ones - and seeing this post about your Pigeon I am really missing my Googly.

  8. Trust me, the swaggery people are usually absorbing it somewhere invisible; they're just better actors. It comes back and bites us, anyway. When my life was falling apart (first marriage breaking up, twenty years back), a girl in my office reassured me 'But you'll be alright, Cassie, you always cope!' I felt like screaming 'I don't want to cope, I want to fall apart and nobody will let me...'

    And huge HOORAY for the Pigeon.

  9. Long live that Pidge...she is a dog of great reserves; clearly. Lou x

  10. Every morning we get to choose how we feel that day. Most everything else is out of our control, but we are able to control this one thing.
    Choosing to be optimistic doesn't cost any more that being pessimistic; but look how much better it makes the day go.
    Losing your lovely Pidge wouldn't hurt any less if you embrace each day "in the notion that she is immortal", than if you "stoically prepare yourself for the inevitable"...I know which one I would choose.
    And thank you for so generously sharing her with us.

  11. Wonderful news. Wonderful.

    The Pidge is lovely.

  12. Yay Pidge! And, happily, your ordinariness is much more special than most people's specialness, so we'll be glad to have you back no matter what adjectives you're wearing.


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