Between five and eight years, apparently. That is, it seems, the average life-span of a Buzzard. I consider that at least half a decade too long.
(By way of explanation, I should explain that these late traumatic events were unfolding at the same location as my earlier entanglements with the revolting repugnant raptor. I therefore had no doubt that I found myself in his foul presence once more - only this time I was exposed and defenceless).
I am ashamed to admit that I began to snivel and cry. I was frightened, cold, and in terrible pain. I did my utmost to stifle my sobs, not wishing my nemesis from times past to catch me in this state and decide that he might like a supper of filet de Jasper tartare. I could smell that he was alone in the branches above my head - and yet he continued to mutter and chuckle to himself. The insane old fool. After what seemed an age, an owl hooted nearby and so the buzzard decided to make himself scarce. I waited until I was certain he was gone and then exhaled with much relief. I could no longer hold my head up, so I allowed myself to collapse fully onto the ground and tumbled into unconsciousness.
The next sensation of which I was aware was the sound of a voice floating somewhere high above me. For the merest of moments I feared lest the buzzard had returned - but no; this was a human voice. As I came around, the voice grew nearer and someone was stroking me. I tried to open my eyes, but the searing pain swiftly put paid to that idea. In the brief instant that my cracked eyelids had opened, I saw that it was now a bright, sunlit morning and that my new companion was a young man of Indian origin in a lurid cycling outfit. He was talking to me in a very soothing manner and seemed relieved to see that I was still alive. On any other occasion I would have risen to politely greet him but though my spirit was willing; my flesh was incapable. I managed a feeble lick of his hand as he examined the tag on my collar.
My new friend took a mobile telephone from a pouch strapped to his slender waist and tapped in some numbers. I was too tired to hear properly what he was saying - but there was no mistaking the very female shriek at the other end of the 'phone connection. It was my partner.
That was the spur I needed to struggle dogfully to my paws. I squeaked with the effort and the pain and stood there, swaying uneasily. I steadied myself, knowing that if I collapsed again then I would not be able to get up again without help. The cyclist completed his call and then walked back to me, where I was bravely attempting a few hesitant steps.
"It's alright, son." smiled the man, "Your mum's on her way." I managed a watery smile and felt him pat my head, expressing his concern for the state I was in. I began tottering unsteadily towards the road, thinking I ought to be waiting for my partner in the proper car park, but the lycra-clad cyclist moved quickly and blocked my way. "No, no, no!" he chided, "Don't try and cross the road! It's too dangerous." I had to concede that he had a point - and I was in no shape to nip smartly out of the way of the cars as I had last night. I waited at the man's side.
The next car that I heard was, happily, my own New Teal Megane. I swear it was the sweetest sound in the world at that moment. I could even forgive the car's evil Satan-possessed windows, which still torment me in sliding up and down by themselves. The engine had barely stopped when the door opened and my partner tumbled out. With profuse thanks to my rescuer, she fell to her knees, opening her arms wide and crying my name.
She looked horror-struck as she realised that I was not physically capable of running towards her. That barked, she waited for me to stagger blindly towards her. I was almost there too, when one of my back legs betrayed me and I collapsed hind-wards onto my bottom. With tender expressions, she scooped me up in her arms and carried me to our car, gently settling me onto my usual seat. The feeling was nothing short of exquisite. At that, my partner turned again to the young man and recommenced her thanks.
"I think he was hit by a car." she said. This, apparently, had been her worst fear of all.
"I don't know, I'm not sure." replied my saviour. "Personally, I think he's been in a fight with a fox or something. But if you are OK, I have to go, I've got a long ride planned for today and I'm supposed to meet up with friends at lunchtime, further along the route." My partner repeated her profuse thanks and appreciation and climbed into the car beside me.
"Oh, Jasper." she sighed, tenderly stroking my fur. Examining my bruised and bloodied eyes, she gave a gasp. I then felt a series of little jabs and tugs, as grass seeds and fragments of barley and corn ears were gently pulled from my eyes. As soon as this unenviable task had been completed as far as was practical, I heard the car engine start and felt its movement as my partner gently steered us back home.
Except that we didn't go home. Finding that the time was now ten past nine on a Saturday morning, I was ushered straight into the vets' clinic - where they run an emergency service until noon. Nice vet Graham (my secondary surgeon, but still highly competent and most pleasant) hastened to my side and began a series of tests. Fortunate it was for him that I was much-weakened - for my bottom was cruelly violated by an icy-cold thermometer. Do you think they DELIBERATELY store it in the freezer before thrusting it betwixt a dog's little chocolate starfish? I have my suspicions...
After probing within my eyes, ears, nose and mouth, I was pronounced to have had an extremely lucky escape. I had bad conjunctivitis in both eyes, for which an injection and drops were prescribed. All of my eyelids - most particularly the lower ones - had been completely shredded by the corn and barley stalks. But I agree that I HAD been incredibly lucky - my eyes themselves had not been scratched. Had they been injured in the same way as the lids I would have lost both optical organs. As it happened, neither was even scratched. The photographs in an earlier post in no way do justice to their appearance, which worsened as the days passed. My partner DID take a close-up picture but, as we reviewed it together prior to putting it in a blog entry, we both deemed it too graphic for general viewing. People are welcome, if they wish, to view grisly images online - but such things should be preceded with a warning, which is not possible in the blog format. Suffice it to say that, for a number of days, my shredded eyelids exactly resembled fragments of scorched bacon. In addition, the smell of decayed flesh was enough to make even my partner wince as she applied my medications.
Much relief came in the form of the Aloe Vera plant, which sits on our kitchen windowsill. If you do not own one of these little plants I urge you to obtain and nurture one now. My partner snipped off one of its fleshy shoots and split it. Then, squeezing the leaf, she ushered its thick, clear, cooling gel (which comes out in plentiful 'globs') onto my tattered eyelids and used the leaf to massage it in.
"Ooh-ooh-ooh-oh-oh-ohhhhh..." I sighed, as the seemingly-magical elixir at once eased the burning, stinging pain and the maddening itchiness. It also helped with the ghastly smell, which was another plus.
A week has now passed since these events. I am thrilled and relieved to be able to bark that my eyelids have grown back in their entirety. They are still a little swollen and sore - but complete recovery is just around the corner, I'm certain of it.
I appreciate that this may shock certain of my readers - but I believe that, this time, I may actually have learned my lesson...
Away with these traumas!
Somewhat later than I should have done - I welcome not one but TWO new followers to my blog; hurrah!! 'Anon' and Keetha Denise Broyles - THANK YOU for finding me; I am very glad to make your acquaintance - and I am only sorry that your initial visits have found me engaged in wickedness...
Another "Evolution" instalment next time!