pesky pets


It’s not been a good day.

The grumpy old chap who had such a large part of all our hearts died  today. All of a sudden. He wasn’t in form- he had no oomph- and we were going to phone the vet for an appointment, when he just keeled over.

Spurs Fan demonstrated heretofore hidden agressive driving techniques, but it was too late. Jake didn’t make it to the vet. He was gone by the time we got there; he was undoubtedly gone before his head hit the floor, but we didn’t want to believe that.

We came home empty handed.

As with all things, it could have been worse. He could have been home alone. I could have been the only person here. Our friends who looked after him on Monday night and Tuesday morning could have found him. Instead, because it’s half term, we were all at home. We were able to satisfy the urge to do something, however pointless. We were able to pet him and hold him and talk to him.

He’s never been in great health, but when he was checked out last week, all he needed was an antibiotic, which cleared up his tum issues. We expected him to keep on pottering about for a good while yet.

My days at home will be longer and lonely.

I just made a toasted cheese sandwich and had no gentle nudge on my leg. No shake, stretch, or pitter patter when the fridge door was opened. When I leave the house in a little while I’ll not say “Bye, Jake. You’re in charge.”  I’ll not need to check on him first thing, or wonder where the poo is, or forget to let him in. He won’t knock over the footballer gnome (doesn’t everybody have one?) or stand in exactly the wrong place in the teeny kitchen. He won’t choose the bits of newspaper for the fire, or complain about the  television. He won’t or sniff every leaf, or grumble at each passing dog.

He came to us when he was about 8, a lifetime behind him. He needed a quiet house, with somebody about most of the time. He didn’t like fuss or noise or contact he didn’t initiate.

He was our wee old man, who got the blame for all the random smells.

He was one of us.

The wee pet.

a tale of the unexpected

For 10 days we did our thing, cleaning doggy eyes three times a day, with various levels of protest.

He stopped fighting with us, so we thought he must be getting some ease. But there was still a lot of junk. No sign of tear ducts being kick started.

I took advantage of his ease to snaek in extra hugs, and kisses on the top of his head.

I planned to give his stuff away, eventually. We considered what day would be best to do the deed.

I veered between denial and maudlin.

And we went back to the vet.

Against all the odds, wee Jake is much improved. The vet is delighted. I still had to check…

“No, no need to put him to sleep. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Spurs Fan was driving, but I may as well have floated home. Phone calls, texts and FB updates nearly all before we reached the front door. Such excitement, delight and relief. Our ignorance didn’t kill him.

He lives to sniff another day.


image from



life saving duty

Jake was getting on and anti social when we got him, four years ago. He protected us from swimming pools and violence on TV, from passing strangers, and from Grandad. He guarded me against bookclub buddies, making sure that anyone who movedin their seat got a Very Hard Stare. He made it clear that approaching dogs would be eaten, and that he shouldn’t be let off his lead.

Now he’s properly old, and blind, and he doesn’t care about what’s happening on TV. Visitors can step over him without causing a stir. Bookclub buddies are ignored. Dance mates are warned about being inadvertently friendly. An unthinking pat can cause much aggravation, but Grandad may be permitted an odd pat. When he least expects it. Jake will approach and welcome displays of affection, but only when he feels like it.

And we’ve discovered that doggy health is more complex than we thought. He’s been drinking more and eating less. He’s either in a deep sleep or pacing about, as if there was a sausage somewhere he can’t find. We thought he’d probably need his insulin uptake boosted, so took him to the vet. Hmm, said Peter, bring him back in the morning for a blood test some hours after he’s eaten. Hmm, said Peter, I want a better look at his eyes. Hmm, said Peter, I may do a kidney function test.

We spent the evening reading about doggy renal failure.

We were not prepared.

Yes, we need to top up the insulin again. No, there’d not be a kidney function test just yet.

Instead “It wouldn’t be fair to keep him going like that. With his very bad eyes. They’re very painful. Never mind the diabetes, or the kidneys. The eyes are that bad.”

Whaty what what?

Jake has always had gunk about his eyes, which gets removed when he’s showered. The gunk got worse over the past few months. We noticed, but thought it was old age. We never considered that it could indictate something serious. Dry eye. No tears being produced to clean and lubricate his wee unseeing eyes. Now, scratched and painful eyes. “If I saw that dog out walking, with those eyes, I’d wonder about his vet.” And we, goofy people, had no idea. Our lovely grumpy pet is in so much pain that it would be better to put him to sleep, and we knew nothing about it.

So now, we’re in doggy ER mode. Superduper ointment in his eyes 3 times a day for 10 days to try to kickstart his tear ducts. I wonder if that’s even possible, or if Peter is giving us time to get used to the idea. Giving us something to do, however useless, to assuage our guilt. Giving us time to show our love to the boy by holding his muzzle tight shut, his paws tucked in, while we stick ointment in his sore eyes. (Yes, it’s a 2 person job.)

Giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. Giving us a chance to forgive ourselves.

observations and learning from this week

One is never too old to be laid flat by the common cold.

Rubbish things happen to those we know and love.

Homework works well when it’s teamwork.

The TV recording box knows exactly the programme you’re most looking forward to watching, and fails to record it.

I may be addicted to Wolf Hall
I may be addicted to Wolf Hall


Just because I put things in the diary doesn’t mean I recognise that I have to turn up in that place at that time.

There are too many dancing competitions (6 days in 3 weeks- guess what fool signed up for that? See point above.)

Our little blind bundle looks cute under the table, but if I move the chairs, he has no idea how to get out.

The magic conference elves are at it again.

I’m becoming a healthcare geek- I was all excited to see that this week’s study guide is available.

Most amazing of all- it is possible to 3D print food. Food, people. That really seems like wizardry. One possible application is that pureed food can be somehow constructed to look like its pre-pureed state via a printer. It could look tasty and appetising rather than, well, brown gloop. How incredible is that? (With luck, it is also edible.)