Is nobody going to take me out?
Come on, it's not raining. Yet!
I am waiting.
Benno was 11 years old at Christmas, which is very elderly for a Labrador. His muzzle and chest are sprinkled with grey and the photo shows that he has lost a lower front tooth. Luckily front teeth are not important to him, he never chews his food, just swallows it whole.
My dear, sweet, best friend and walking companion is getting old; he still runs and chases sticks and loves long rambles, but jumping stiles and five bar gates is more difficult. In fact, he now graciously waits for me to open gates for him when before he sailed over them, no matter how high. Walking through gates beside cattle grids was for sissies, he cleared them effortlessly from a standing start. Not anymore. Running up and down the Castle Mound doesn't seem to be as much fun as it used to be, either. When I hurl a stick down the bank, he still gamely fetches it up the very steep slope, but only once or twice; the third time he has a rest half-way up and finds it more interesting to lie down and chew his stick for a while, before he comes up the rest of the hill.
Recently, I've noticed several lumps on him, one near a gland in his neck, under the ruff and one on his bottom, which called for visits to the vet. Benno had needles inserted into his neck and fingers poked up his bottom, all very undignified. He is so good that he let it all happen, including a very thorough examination of his spine and legs. The only thing he insists on, on these occasions, is that I stay very close and hold his head and whisper to him.
The diagnosis was only mildly disturbing: although he has arthritis in his spine, which is common in old labradors, the lump in his neck is a fat lump and not dangerous. The lump on his bottom hasn't grown any bigger since I first noticed it, which is also good; a definite diagnosis requires a biopsy, which means hospitalisation and anaesthetics. I can't bear the thought of that.
I am sticking my head in the sand somewhat here; Benno's predecessor, Boris, had cancer in almost the same place, but he died within a few weeks after I noticed the lump. Benno has survived for much longer already, the lump hasn't grown and he still appears to be a healthy and happy dog.
I love that blasted animal.
Damn pets, who needs them, they're such a pain.