The dog is dying

THE dog is dying.

It may even be dead by now. She hasn’t moved for five minutes.

You see how insidious they are? I vowed the dog would remain ‘it’. I vowed I would not grow fond of it and call it something affection, like ‘she’. Now it’s happened. She hasn’t moved for five minutes.

It’s not our dog anyway. It’s my daughter’s dog. We told her, 13 years ago, when she got it: don’t expect us to look after it!

We’ve been looking after it now for 12 years and 10 months.

I suppose we had kids, and having a dog isn’t so different.

They both drop hair all over the house, and if you turn your back for five minutes you’ll find them both sprawled over the furniture, and neither of them come when you call.

The only advantage with kids is that they don’t widdle on the herbs. At least, I’ve never caught them at it.

And you can kick a dog. I’ve written in this column many times about going home and kicking the dog. Now I’ll tell you a secret – I’ve never kicked the dog. Her.

Sometimes I’ve wanted to. Well, not exactly the dog, but something! And the dog was generally handy because she follows me about all the time. It, dammit. It follows me about all the time.

Not any more. She can hardly walk. It’s all she can do to stand up. I tell you frankly that if she stood up now, trotted outside to the herb garden and widdled in it – I’d cheer!

But it’s not going to happen. We’ve cured her of tick bites (with the help of the vet), battle wounds, sharp bones that have blocked her intestines, and sticking her nose into peoples’ crutches when she meets them, but we can’t cure her now.

And I’m not having her — it — put down. She’s not in pain, she’s just fading away – if you can say that about a cattle dog weighing about 70 kilos. She never used to be fat. She was wiry and alert, with ears like sails and a nose that could smell chocolate in Belgium. Not that she used to get any. We don’t approve of dog’s getting tidbits. And we don’t like fat dogs.

We used to walk a lot. To be perfectly honest, that’s why we let our daughter have the dog in the first place – so when the kids were legging it down the track ahead of us (with the dog) the snake would bite it before it bit them. A kind of expendable guard dog.

But the last time we went for a walk, which was about six months ago, my wife urged me in front.

“But the dog likes to go on ahead,” I said.

“Yes,” she said, “but there might be a snake.”

A kind of expendable husband.

Now she’d dying. Who knows how long it’ll take, and how it will be. Probably we’ll end up having to carry her outside to do her business. I don’t care. I’ll even carry her to the herb garden. I’ll vacuum the dog hairs off the sofa with a smile (I don’t have to worry about her climbing on it any more, because she can’t). I’ll feed her Belgian chocolates.

When she does die I’m going to bury her under the fig tree down the garden (it’ll be a very big hole!) and stick a marker on it with the dates.

And it won’t say ‘It’.

It’ll say ‘Jessie’.