On Thursday, I was ten years old. Now, I am not. For, on Friday, I turned eleven. Eleven years of Jasper in this world. The preceding day was my sweet partner's birthday. We celebrated by treating ourselves to fish and chips from the chippy. Happy days.
And what a year it has been. Full of traumas and changes for us both. In the first place, we would BOTH like to express heartfelt thanks to all those friends who sent good wishes for my partner's hospital appointment in the week. Lance, Mad, Bailey (long time, no bark, mate - hope things are wagging well for you) and the ever-wonderful Animal Doctor, Secretary and their brood of furry angels. THANK YOU. Your kind thoughts were of great help.
'Twas not an appointment that brought much good, however. My partner has got three months to stop smoking completely (she only has a couple a day - but that is two too many) and to lose as much weight as she can and then they will operate. 'Tis a very high-risk operation, I understand. My partner and I have discussed things and, although she will comply with the consultant's instructions, we believe that she shall request NOT to have the operation. It will complicate matters, though painkillers can abate the soreness, and it may bring her life-expectancy down to one more in line with my own, but neither of us wish to take the dangerous risk. My partner says that she would rather pass in my company, in a warm bed, than under anaesthetic on a cold table with her chest cavity open. Plus which, she is aware that her breasts are key assets for attracting the menfolk of her species, so best if they don't fall prey to the scalpel... She's not completely stupid.
And, secondly, it is now time to conclude the traumatic tale of my separation from my beloved partner. We left off last time with me being ushered into the spare bedroom of my luxurious prison, with new friend Charlie assuring me that all would be well...
You will not be surprised to learn that I did not sleep well. I was haunted by dreams and thoughts of the bleak, partner-less, future that I may have to face and it was not long before my pillow was wet with tears. I must have fallen asleep at some point, however, because when I opened my eyes light streamed through a gap in the pale curtains. For a moment, I thought the whole episode had been a horrible dream - until I took in my surroundings. I was laid in a neat, single bed with chintz sheets and matching curtains. The room smelled of fresh laundry and roses. As I began to stretch my limbs, and long for the double bed which I shared with my partner, a strange, wailing sound disturbed me. Someone was singing.
"I left my hearrrrt in Saaan Fraaaancisco!"
It was fairly tuneless, but jolly all the same. I jumped off the bed, nosed open the door, and followed the sound. It was Charlie, in the Utility Room, being dried by his male partner. As I poked my head around the door, Charlie looked out at me from under his towel and grinned.
"Morning, mate!" he said. "Sleep well? I've been out for a quick run and a dip in the river. Same every morning - and I like a good sing when I'm being dried. Sets me up for the day!"
I wagged my tail at him. Whatever trials Charlie had experienced in his past life, he was completely happy now. I don't think I'd ever seen anyone quite so content with his life before. Apart from the dog Ewan, of course, but his relentless happiness was principally due to his psychological difficulties. Charlie was sane AND happy. "There are biscuits here, on this plate, for you." continued Charlie, as he was released from the folds of his towel, shook himself, and trotted up to give me a friendly lick. He indicated the plate from the night before, on which had been placed a number of dog biscuits. Charlie had already emptied his bowl of his biscuits.
As I debated with myself as to whether to lower myself to the indignity of dog - dog!! - biscuits, Charlie's female partner entered the kitchen, holding a telephone handset.
"Good news." she said. Charlie and I looked up expectantly, and her husband, Charlie's male partner, came in from the Utility Room after hanging up Charlie's towel. "I 'phoned the Dog Warden." [from the local council] "This fellow was reported missing by his owner last night!"
My tail began to slowly wag. My hostess continued.
"He's going to ring her, and she'll be here to pick you up very soon."
Could this be?!?! My partner had searched for me?!?!?! I yipped, as Charlie beamed and winked at me.
"Hmmn!" said the male partner, "I wouldn't have minded keeping him. He gets on well with our Charlie, and he's a super little fellow."
I bristled slightly at the term "little" - but was almost overwhelmed. At that very moment, my partner was speeding towards me - and our reunion was imminent. My appetite suddenly returned, and I gobbled up the biscuits that had been laid out for me.
"Charlie." I said, as I swallowed the last biscuit, "I cannot thank you enough for your kindness and your hospitality. No-one deserves their good fortune more than you. Bless you again and again."
"My pleasure." said Charlie, confirming his good nature. His partners went to stroke and fuss me, and I expressed my grateful thanks to them, though it is doubtful that they understood. After a short time, a car was heard drawing to a halt in front of the cottage. Charlie's female partner went into the front room, followed by Charlie and I, and looked out of the window.
"Yes," she called back to the kitchen, "This is them."
I held my breath - and a sudden thought struck me and froze me to the spot. What would my partner think? What would she say? All I could imagine was that I would receive a severe spanked bottom for my wickedness. Could my partner EVER forgive me? Would she even want me again?
Charlie called me over to the window. I looked out - YES! It was her!!! It was her parents' car. Her mother got out of the driver's side and she - my Most Only - exited the passenger's side.
But I was appalled at what I saw.
My young, beautiful, cheery, vibrant partner was hunched over - stooped, like an elderly pensioner - and was clinging to the frame of the vehicle door for support. With one hand she gripped the car door and the other hand and arm was clutched around her stomach, as if comforting herself. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, and the area around them was dark and swollen - as if she had just gone five rounds with Lennox Lewis.
What had I done to her? Could she ever forgive me? Charlie's partners opened the front door, and I stepped apprehensively forward.
All my doubts were instantly erased.
At first sight of me, my partner collapsed to her knees.
"JASPER!!!" she screamed, throwing her arms open wide. I instantly broke into a run, and literally flung myself into her embrace; my tail wagging with such fury that I was sure it would wag clean off.
My beloved partner held me tightly, wailing over and over again that she'd thought I was dead, she'd thought she'd never see me again... The hot tears poured from her eyes, down her sweet apple cheeks, and onto the fur on my face.
Her tears trickled down my furry face - and mingled with my own. We were reunited. Nothing else mattered - or ever will.