I am beginning to think that the perennially lovely and wise Angie might have a point. I saw my girlfriend, Candy (the chocolate Labrador), for the first time in ages a few days ago - and I was both stunned and distressed by her appearance.
I was walking with Maisie last Wednesday and encountered my belovèd, with one of her partners, at a favourite bridge over the river that flows through the town. I was barkless. Her fur had lost its rich, deep, velvety chocolate colour and had paled significantly. She was thin - almost skeletal - and she sat with her bloodshot eyes closed against the sunlight as Maisie stopped to chat with Candy's partner.
"My dear love!" I gasped, running to my sweetheart's side and sniffing her over. She bore a strange, medicinal, metallic scent. "Whatever has happened to you?!"
Candy slowly opened her eyelids, almost as if they were intolerably heavy.
"Jasper..." she croaked, sounding like the very epitomé of a raddled old crone.
"What happened?!" I repeated.
"I just got out of the vets' yesterday." she replied. "I've been staying there all week. Gastroenteritis. I was on a drip for four days. I nearly died."
"Whatever is Gastroenteritis?!" I yelped. It sounded awful.
"A whole heap of 'you-do-NOT-want-to-know'..." replied Candy. "I'll be fine, given time..."
I bade her farewell, shocked and distressed at her appearance. And I haven't seen Harvey in ages, either. Apparently, he has been grief-stricken by the death of his best friend, Starsky.
I am working on ways to pull myself and my saddened friends from our shared despair. Time is a healer - and it will help us all, in due course, I daresay.