As far as I’m concerned, my senior pooch is Super Dog. Why? Well, because she’s wonderful of course! She sleeps at the foot of my bed, beeps her nose against mine when it’s time to wake up, and waits patiently for the last piece of toast. When I go out, she transfers to the half landing in order to gaze through a window and wait for my car’s return. And when I’m writing into the early hours, she lays on my feet snoring. At bedtime, she bounds up the stairs ahead of me. Except this week, she stopped bounding.
It seems only 5 minutes ago we rescued a mad beagle that could leap over fences, dig faster than a JCB, swipe 20 picnics in as many seconds whilst walking through Greenwich Park, and bust open every single supermarket shopping bag if you dared to turn away for a nano-second. But time marches on, and none of us are getting any younger. Which includes the pooch. So I took her to the vet.
Taking a beagle on a car journey is always noisy. For pooch, the car means one of three things: a trip to Footscray Meadow to chase squirrels; a spell in the kennel or – every pet’s nightmare – suffering a thermometer where the sun doesn’t shine. The moment the dog is settled on the back seat, the barking begins. The initial noise is akin to Yippee, Footscray Meadows followed by lots of neck craning as she awaits the vast green space to come into view. Upon sailing straight past, the joyful bark turns into a furious protest with nose pressed up against the glass. When the car bypasses the dirt track to the kennel, then pooch knows we’re down to the last option. And the baying begins. Ever heard a beagle bay? You don’t want to.
The receptionist looked slightly anxious as my beagle burst into the waiting room. After all, the last time we were within these walls, they’d changed from white to brown. I won’t go into detail. Fortunately there were no other pet patients in the waiting room and we went straight into the vet. The dog was diagnosed with a touch of arthritis and a prescription was written up. ‘One more thing before you go,’ said the vet, ‘I’d like to check your dog for diabetes. Collect some urine so I can do a test.’ Sounds a doddle, doesn’t it.The following morning I found a small unwanted Tupperware and showed it to the pooch. She wagged her tail. Food? I shook my head and grabbed her lead. Ah, walkies! I shook my head again. ‘Wee wees,’ I told her. Pooch looked at me. What? In that? Don’t be ridiculous. We set off.
We trundled along the pavement. The dog had her nose to the ground sniffing out the all-important precise spot to piddle. The minute her rear end bobbed down I shoved the Tupperware under her...oh!...where exactly did the wee...damn. She’d stopped. ‘Mummy?’ said a child’s voice a few paces behind me, ‘what’s that lady doing?’ It was perfectly obvious what I was doing. Bent down, doubled over, hair in face. Which ruddy keyhole did the wee come out of? Mummy took her child’s hand and swiftly crossed the road. ‘Can we have a dog Mummy?’ asked the child. ‘Absolutely not,’ was the firm answer.We entered the local park. Hallowed ground for weeing. But not in great abundance. Rather the ritual is leaking a maximum of three drops on a daisy or nettle before sniffing out the next particularly interesting thistle or weed. And so, Tupperware poised, I spent the next hour painfully collecting a urine sample. Drip by drip. By the time we’d completed our circuit, the Tupperware contained not just wee, but flies, dead leaves and a half a fluffy dandelion.
Anyway, the good news is the pooch doesn’t have diabetes. Which reminds me, What did the sign in the vet’s waiting room say? Sit and stay...