Overwhelming - simply overwhelming.
This is the only way I can describe the messages of love and support that you left following my blog post of Monday evening. I cannot find the barks to tell you how much they mean to me. They provided SUCH comfort to my partner - indeed they, along with the other messages that came through via Facebook and telephone, were all that stood between her and a complete descent into despair. So much did she weep that a migraine ensued and she and I remained at home today.
The trip to the vet was interesting in and of itself. The waiting room was full (as is often the case on a Monday). The other waiting beasts and their humans were most kind and sympathetic towards my partner and I. To myself on account of the dreadful rasping, whistling and bubbling sounds that issued whenever I tried to breathe, and to my partner because of her tears and her impotent endeavours to comfort and becalm me. For a brief time, we repaired to the car park to wait: there were children in the waiting room and I feared lest my laboured throes should distress them.
When we returned, a very kind lady (accompanied by a cat, of all things) leaned towards us and said "I'm next on the list to be seen, but would you like to take my place and go in straight away?" My partner and I hesitated, not wishing to take advantage of generosity if it involved another's suffering, but the kind lady sensed our thoughts and explained that her cat was only in for a post-operative check-up. This being explained, we gratefully accepted this most thoughtful offer and were ushered into the surgical chamber.
Diagnosis was swift. The tumour in my snout is, apparently, on the move. Possibly towards my throat, though one cannot be certain.
My partner was reassured by the surgeon that, despite the horrific sounds emanating from my head and chest, I was in no pain and was receiving enough oxygen through my remaining healthy nostril and my mouth. Two options were presented, each involving an injection: the first would not solve my predicament in the long term but would relax and therefore open up my nasal passages; the second would resolve my predicament - but in a somewhat fatally permanent way.
As you are reading this, you can guess that my partner opted for the former jab. This was administered by the vet, albeit with a warning that my partner "must prepare herself".
This we are, together, endeavouring to do. It is settled between us that my toys are to be bequeathed to my dim-yet-wonderful canine friend Ewan, my larger chews to his wife Fizzy, my smaller chews to my pretty neighbour Rosie and any remaining food to be divided between neighbourhood Staffie pups William and Milo.
After passing an uneasy night, I find myself greatly recovered. My partner is comforted by the fact that she made the right choice (again). This all reminded me that the aforementioned was not my first brush with the fatal needle, and that the rest of my biographical series "The Evolution of Jasper" remains unfinished. I must apologise for this - I recall that I left it on something of a cliff-hanger . I have now written most of the concluding instalment and it shall be posted here very soon, I assure you. Forgive me for my reticence.
I smelled Death on Monday, I really did. Despite eventualities, I confide to you now that I did come close to Death. For a few moments, my heart could not compete with my desperate struggle for breath, and I set my first paw on the Ultimate Journey. I always thought that there was a bright light, towards which one should advance, and that one's previously-deceased friends and family moved forth to greet one. I even began to look out for Kipper... But nothing. It wasn't My Time. But I swear I smelled Death.
How to describe the scent of Death...? Most bizarre, for a start. It smelt like a curious blend of fresh rain on new tarmac, warm popcorn and, oddly, lavender. Not a frightening smell at all - quite comforting in fact.
But enough of death! I live - and gratefully so. As I left the veterinary chamber, my surgeon bid me "Happy Birthday for Sunday, Jasper!". For that day heralds my 13th birthday! Let us smile and hope for better things for my fourteenth year. I have so much to be thankful for - your friendship, dear reader, not least among those things.
Smile on, good friend, and be thankful for all that comes our way - good or bad - in this transient life.