Posted by Tania Kindersley.
One of the things that lives in the back of my mind like a shadow is the very great age of the Pigeon. She is fourteen years old and that is old. Ever since I lost her sister I am acutely aware of the fleeting nature of a dog’s life. Sometimes, the thought clutches at my heart so hard that I am almost afraid of how much I love her. I divert myself with the horse love, and work, and keeping busy, but the thought remains.
Yesterday, I found a lump on her stomach. Horrid imaginings chased themselves in so hard that I almost did not want to take her to the vet, because I could not bear to hear the sentence being pronounced. But she is well in herself, I thought; her nose is wet, she chases down that ball as if she were a three-year-old, she is eating well. But still, there it was, the terror, buffeting me as hard as the east wind.
I took her at three-forty. I tried to look normal. I am not sure that I succeeded. It was not my alpha vet, but his junior colleague, a very kind and smiling woman who has seen the Pidge before. She examined the growth, frowned, felt, thought. Don’t say it out loud, I thought; just bloody don’t.
‘It’s fine,’ she said.
The room stopped moving about. I had not realised that it was moving, but I was so dizzy with fret that it was like being on a ship at sea.
‘Oh,’ I said, trying not to smile like a crazy person.
She is fine. It’s a little fatty growth; sounds disgusting, but dogs get them and there is no worry. They are going to keep an eye on her, but it’s just perfectly, perfectly normal.
We got her weighed whilst I was there. OPTIMIMUM WEIGHT. I felt as proud as if I had bred a Derby winner. Her claws were trimmed.
‘She does look well,’ said the kindly vet. ‘She’s in great shape.’
Everyone in the vet’s waiting room admired her. She went about making friends and influencing people. She was, of course, easily the most beautiful dog there. I am not biased at all.
The nasty demons went back into their box. We live to fight another day. These are the twilight years now; each day is precious. Everybody knows, from my closest family to the farthest Dear Reader, that I shall be a wreck when she goes. But for now, I still have the great gift of her, dozing on the sofa, in all her sleek, black, brilliant glory.
There was snow this morning, and a paltry two degrees. A thin, mean rain persisted all day, and the world looked as if it were drowning. So, no photographs, just a few from the last week:
Red, looking out at her view:
My gorgeous Pigeon, with her noble, thoughtful face on:
Yesterday’s hill. Today’s is lost in the cloud: