I want to tell you all about a friend of mine. He moved to England a few years ago for a better life, but he speaks very little English, hasn’t yet found a job and has never, as far as I’m aware, paid any tax. He sits around a lot and his efforts to integrate with neighbours have been sub par; he’s quite antisocial to be honest, which I’ve always put down to trauma experienced in childhood.
I’ve been meaning to make that joke for about 4 years. Originally it was going to be a YouTube video where I lift him up to the camera, but it’s hard to make a fuss of one dog without making a fuss of the other and although Adonis has always been easy to pick up, trying to get too close to Fred is like trying to wrestle with an octopus.
Anyway, the reason I’ve finally got my arse into gear is that Donnie no longer looks remotely as happy about life as he did in that photo, which I think was taken last summer. He’s got prostate cancer (ironically given that I was writing a similar post about 6 years ago about leishmania) and the prognosis, a few months ago, was a few months. And I hate it when people make a fuss of friends and loved ones after they’ve died but not before, so. HAIL DON THE WHEEZE. One time he was so intent on killing a fly that he almost knocked himself out on a wall. Occasionally he falls off a bed and has to get up before anybody can see him. If you’re playing with Fred and he wants your attention, which is every time you’re playing with Fred, he sticks his head under your arm so you look down and see a nose sticking out of your armpit. It is a source of some regret that I’ve never managed to capture the phenomenon on camera.
One day I might write both my dogs into a set of short stories or something, and fully retell the legendary tale of the time Donnie nicked a carrot from Fred while it was sticking out of Fred’s mouth, but I was cleaning up canine vomit at 6:30 this morning and at the vet at 8:30 listening to options regarding dehydration treatment and using phrases like ‘keep him comfortable’ so today is not that day. Have I ever mentioned that Donnie really likes the vet? He actually slipped his harness when we were in there once and escaped out the back to say hi to the nurses. It’s only because he makes a beeline for anyone who might make a fuss of him. What an embarrassment.
Anyway. Say hi to your pets from me. Say hi to your pets from you while you’re at it. Next time I write here I will almost definitely be one dog short of a pair, which is shit. They’re both my best mates, excepting those two or three epic fights they’ve had over the years, and Fred has leishmania (the irony of this entire year is starting to itch) and the thought of being entirely dogless by Christmas is completely appalling and look just say hi to your friends. I saw this bullshit Twitter post once that said something like ‘a dog might only be part of your life, but you are their entire life’ and terrible graphics aside the phrase has stayed with me. I’m aware this post has become kind of a downer and not the joyous celebration I was aiming for, so here is Fred wearing a Pilates mat. I was in the process of practising Pilates when he decided that he might like to take up the exercise as well. Spoiler alert I put up with him for a bit then gave up.
I think he was probably judging me on my downward dog.
(It was all academic though, because I fucked up times and should have been there four-and-a-half hours earlier.)
I spent half an hour last week working on my CV, which is… interesting. I get that we have to sell ourselves and everything, but it’s hard to explain that my favourite hobby – sitting with Fred and Adonis and falling asleep – is a qualification worthy of employment.
Speaking of Adonis: the last I mentioned of him was that he was very ill and being given palliative care. Those of you well-versed in the art of counting may have noticed that his “six months to live” ended, er, a month ago. This is because he now has a ‘normal’ life expectancy for a dog of his size and upbringing: around three more years. He is on a special diet and has been on a cocktail of drugs since December, but as long as we give him his medication and never, ever feed him anything containing protein, he will be able to enjoy his nice little life…
…Which basically means that he sleeps a lot, chases and barks at everything that moves, gets Fred into trouble at least once a day and enjoys numerous cuddles with virtually every human who comes in the house. This is him the other day:
Fred is also well. He’s got arthritis in his hips and legs and he’s sore quite a bit, but he still leaps about playing catch, like a puppy, and exploring the far-flung parts of the field, like a puppy. He’s always been pretty laid back and he’s recently taken to asking – via paw-waving and grumbling – for his favourite blanket to be placed on his favourite spot on the sofa so he can hang out with whoever’s watching telly. He won’t sit unless the blanket’s been smoothed out and someone’s patted it (to check for blanket monsters perhaps… or maybe he’s actually asking permission?!) so he’s actually becoming a bit of an old-man dog. Quite refined in his tastes, apart from that day he ate Donnie’s tablets and had to get his stomach pumped, or this morning when he chewed a biro, or the other day when he herded me toward the stairs so I’d take them both out.
Whatever. They are my friends and I’m glad we found each other.
Do all you non-real-life readers remember Donnie? I don’t think I introduced him properly. My family found him – or rather, he found my family – in Greece in April last year, and we brought him home at the end of last January. He’s this little thing with huge webbed feet and a wonky face who breathes like Tim Minchin’s baby and hoards cuddles like that dwarf king did gold. He and Fred, our other dog, are amongst my top five things on the planet.
A few weeks ago Donnie’s eyes started going funny, rolling up in his head. My parents took him to the vet, who referred him to another vet, who diagnosed him with a disease called leishmaniasis. It’s a from a Leishmania parasite passed from sandflies to other creatures (humans can get it too but it isn’t a cross-species thing). Its symptoms can be controlled with drugs but it cannot be cured and it causes, amongst other things, kidney failure. Donnie went into a critical care hospital at the weekend after he stopped eating, came home on Tuesday and went back today, when he stopped eating again. He’s been put on a feeding tube and should be home tomorrow, but we’ve been told that he only has a few months left. I don’t quite know how to explain how incredibly unfair this is, or how distraught my family is – but I’m letting you lot know so if I don’t post for three weeks during the next six months, you need not worry; I’m sitting at home with Fred trying not to have a meltdown. I’ll probably also be doing a lot of pet-centric posts in the spring which I’ve thought about over the past year but never made because I assumed I’d have years to sort them out.
To prevent this site becoming too life-y, if the world doesn’t end tomorrow I’ll post the Indifferent Ignorance awards (and if anyone who found this randomly wants to post a spelling issue or something equally asinine, save yourself the trouble: my response will be to block you from posting again, or to tell you to go fuck yourself, or both).