WE spent our anniversary in the garden at midnight with a torch, checking the bathroom habits of our dog. Not quite a romantic dinner for two, but the outcome was just as satisfying.
Let me explain.
Our dog Lucky is a big Labrador cross who is close to 15 years old. We became worried about her on one of the bank holidays after Christmas.
She was stressed, off her food and suffering from constipation.
Checking the symptoms on the internet was less than reassuring. I phoned Donaldson's, our usual vet, who have an emergency surgery at Aspley manned 24 hours a day.
I took Lucky along and she was swiftly checked over but the prognosis was not straight forward.
The vet gave me some medicine to help with the constipation but suggested something more serious might be wrong.
If there was no improvement in 24 hours, she said we should go to our usual surgery at Thongsbridge for a scan. Sadly, there was no improvement.
Lucky does not like going to the vets. She seems to sense the destination as soon as she gets in the car. Last year she had to spend a night there and it seems to have stayed in her memory.
At Thongsbridge we had to pull her inside, and coax her again to enter the consulting room.
Andy the vet immediately put her at her ease, getting down on the floor with her and giving her another thorough examination. He confirmed there was a problem and a scan was needed.
We had to leave her again, even though she strained to get away from the two nurses who were taking her into care. She kept looking back at us, as if we were leaving her for good.
Andy phoned later to tell us the result of the scan. She needed an operation. There was no alternative treatment. Go ahead, I said. But I knew she was old and there was an obvious risk.
You can explain procedures and risks to people, but not to small children or animals. What if she died and her last few hours had been confused because we had abandoned her? I was, I have to say, somewhat emotional.
As soon as the op was complete, Andy phoned again. It had been successful and she was okay. She had had an infection in her cervix. She had had what was, in effect, a hysterectomy. We collected her and brought her home; she was disorientated, restless but tired. We sat with her during the night. Next day, she became agitated and seemed in pain and Andy prescribed more drugs.
We became more worried: Lucky was stressed, so we were stressed and we took her back to the surgery. A soothing injection and we took her home for another vigil.
A further check up on New Year's Eve and Andy said, “If you are worried about anything, just call. There will be somebody to help. I'm on duty myself over New Year.”
Fortunately, we didn't need to. We've kept a close eye on Lucky, monitoring her behaviour and confirming that she and her bathroom going had returned to normal.
Which is why we were with her in the garden at midnight, following her around with a torch.
Maria and I met at a New Year's party in 1965.
“I never thought,” she said, “that 45 years later I would be spending our anniversary waiting for a dog to poo.”
Well we did and we were extremely happy with the outcome. Lucky is well on the mend, thanks to everyone at Donaldson's.