What did you think of the glorious opening ceremony laid on for us by Danny Boyle last evening, then? I must humbly confess to some cynicism (as hard as it may be for longer-term readers to believe that I possess even the merest whisker of cynicism...), about the costs to our already beleaguered nation; the transport chaos (Olympic road lanes be d*mned), the inexcusable c*ck-ups (Q: How many G4S Security Guards does it take to change an Olympic lightbulb? A: Six squaddies and a policeman...) and the soul-less sponsorship Nazis (only MaccyD's are permitted to sell chips - sorry - "fries", and the rumours go that the police have been ordered by the refreshing carbonated beverage suppliers, Coca-Cola, to Taser anyone seen with a Pepsi can until their cold, dead, ungrateful body stops twitching). However, I am now prepared to admit that I may have misjudged.
The opening ceremony was spectacular, and particularly well put-together - with a most refreshing blend of older, current, and potential future sporting heroes. I very much enjoyed the part involving Her Majesty the Queen and James Bond - it was both surprising and amusing, and did much to convey just what a good sport our inestimable monarch is. Quite excellent. I will never understand why I was never approached for the role of Agent 007. I had a great sense of derring-do AND looked very natty in my bow-tie. But I think some of the stunt work may have been little overwhelming. Yes - perhaps that was it.
Now then. I HAD intended to use this blog entry to tell you all about the very special guests I have been entertaining at my home this weekend. Alas, however, I have been getting distinctly behind-paw with news and must delay this to report, instead, a most distressing situation.
A delightful evening walk in the countryside had been enjoyed by Gisèle, Betty, my partner and myself, in the cool air, once the heat and humidity had decreased a little. It was all most pleasant. I ambled peaceably behind my partner whilst Betty and Gizmo dashed about, squealing, giggling and chasing any wily beastie that was sufficiently foolhardy to move within their line of vision. The two ladies were quite some distance ahead as we began to turn our steps back to the car.
All of a sudden a stomach-churning, horrendous scream pierced the air. It was Gisèle. She was screaming as loudly as her lung-capacity could allow. "Betty! BETTY!!!" we heard her wail, as my partner and I broke into a run towards whatever was going on.
"That bl**dy thug, Betty!" I muttered furiously, through gritted teeth, "How could she?!? After everything?!? I'll KILL her! I'll-" But I was stopped, in my tracks AND in my thoughts.
For Betty was not attacking Gizmo. She was defending her - or, rather, trying to. Little Gizmo was being attacked by some cows, who had been loitering, unseen, in the corner of an adjoining field. Betty was bravely trying to put herself bodily between her precious friend and the bovine tormentors. As my partner and I watched in horror, one of the cows finally succeeded in stamping on poor Gisèle, who shrieked in agony and fell to the ground. As Betty put up another valiant effort to hold off the cows, my partner gathered up the trembling and barely conscious body of Gizmo as gently and quickly as she could. Once Gizmo was off the ground, Betty joined us as we all ran along the remainder of the footpath towards the car.
Once safely in the car park, my partner laid Gizmo gently on the ground. Betty and I watched, subdued, as the little Jack Russell struggled to her feet, squealing with every movement, and permitted my partner to begin feeling her bones for breaks and/or fractures. The back legs seemed sound, but something was very wrong somewhere.
It was difficult to know which aspect of the incident left me feeling more wretched: the injuries to our tiny friend; the desperate despair of my partner; the heartfelt sorrow and concern etched on Betty's face - or the guilt I felt at having suspected that Betty was Gizmo's attacker. These were notions to be processed at another time, however, for my partner had located the specific area causing Gizmo the most torment. It wasn't good. The hoof had impacted on Gisèle at the base of her spine, where the tail (which is, in fact, a part of a dog's spine) joined the body. It seemed flattened - and such was her pain that when my partner felt the base of the tail poor, traumatised, Giz involuntarily whipped around and bit my partner very, very hard, drawing blood. But it wasn't Gizmo's fault. My partner gave the poor dog a reassuring hug. As she opened the car door, Giz, with a further shriek, jumped in.
"Well, that's something." I murmured to Betty. "At least she can move herself."
It was NOT a pleasant journey home. Betty did her best to soothe, but could not console, poor Gizmo. My partner was in torment - what should she do?! She was unsure as to how best to proceed. On the one paw, Giz was able to get in and out of the car AND up and down the stairs unaided - plus the fact that my partner still owed the vets some £400 from MY treatment. On the other paw, however, Gizmo was clearly in very great pain. After a brief conference whilst Gizmo slept (she had been able to eat a little chicken-and-rice dinner), we decided to see how she was in the morning. My partner had, coincidentally but fortunately, pre-arranged for the day off work so that an inspection of a broken door could take place.
No-one slept that Thursday night. Feelings were too raw - and Gizmo was unable to completely lie down. She rested her head and shoulders on her pillow, but kept her rear end raised high in the air, with an accompanying squeal each time she moved. Eventually, my partner was able to construct a pile of cushions and pillows that enabled Giz to at least rest, supported in this peculiar position.
Betty once again demonstrated that she had undergone a complete character transformation for the better. Nothing was too much trouble for her in helping to make Gisèle more comfortable. Everything the large and formerly-aggressive dog could do to assist was done instantly, obligingly and without so much as a grunt of complaint. As exhaustion overcame me and my eyes began to close I witnessed Betty humbling herself to the lowest rung in a dog's hierarchy for the sake of her fallen friend. She was washing her. Yes, proud and powerful Elizabeth was washing Gisèle with her own paws and tongue! I felt deeply humbled and moved. My drowsy eyes closed on the affecting sight of Betty - sweet, noble, good Betty - washing Gizmo's bottom gently and with the utmost care.
With the dawn of Friday came stark realisation for my partner. Gisèle was no better. I saw my partner locked in torment betwixt undoubted further financial misery and the morally-correct thing to do. Of course, there could be but ONE decision. And it was the right one. Torments though there may be, when my partner decides that the right way, however difficult, must be taken then she is firm, resolved and determined on her chosen path, deviating for nothing and no-one. Thus, we all piled silently into the car at 8.20am for an out-of-hours emergency appointment. Elizabeth and I remained in the New Teal Megane as my partner carried a still-whimpering Gizmo into the waiting-room.
This was harrowing for my partner in more ways than one. Primarily there was concern for the suffering little one cradled in her arms like a mewling pup. In addition, there was foreboding for the inevitable expense of treatments and assessments for a partner who was already constrained to only one meal for herself per day and the most reduced circumstances in which it is possible to exist. Notwithstanding either of these, however, it was the first time that she had entered that building since 5 January. Under any other circumstance, nothing could have induced her to re-enter that place; to see "that table" and the last time she...
She saw "the table". She cried, almost to distraction. But was, fortunately, ushered into the other consulting room. Perhaps just as well, considering her mind-state. The staff were, as they always had been, almost impossibly kind. After careful and thorough examination, three outcomes were proffered:
- Euthanasia, there and then;
- X-Rays to confirm/disprove initial diagnosis;
- Return home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to "play it by ear".
After heart-wrenching consideration, my partner chose door number two. Gisèle was then left with the vet for sedation and x-rays.
Betty wailed when my partner returned without Gizmo. She listened to what would happen, but was still almost inconsolable despite my partner's application of biscuits and cuddles. Betty withdrew into the garden, her head hanging low, and I followed quietly.
"Are you all right, my dear?" I asked, as gently and sympathetically as I could.
"Nooo-ooo-oo!" sniffed Betty, miserably, "Oh Jasper, it's all MY fault. My fault! I've killed her, I have killed her..." she wailed on and on.
"Betty," I barked, patiently, "You did NOT kill her. First-off, she ISN'T dead. She'll be back from the vets soon and then we'll see what's to be done. Secondly, I SAW that cow stamp on her. YOU tried to protect her!"
"But nothing! It was an accident!"
Betty mumbled something incomprehensible through her tears.
"Sorry? Didn't catch that, Betz..."
"She wouldn't have done it if it wasn't for me! I TOLD HER that it would be fun to chase the cows! I made her do it!"
I sighed. Betty was possibly right. Gizmo was not the kind of dog to annoy farm animals unless she had been egged-on. With a supreme effort I shook my head and placed one of my paws on one of Betty's.
"My dear, the time for recriminations is LONG past. We must not waste time in apportioning blame. Let us hope for better things - and a full recovery for Gisèle. Yes?"
"Yes..." sniffed Betty miserably. She didn't sound particularly convinced.
At 12.15 that afternoon came the 'phone call from the vets. Betty and I sat up to listen expectantly. My hopes faded as I could see from my partner's expression that the prognosis was not good.
The affected area is, indeed, at the base of the tail. The spine was dislocated and has failed to pop back in correctly. The tail is, likely, lost entirely. Alas, however, the popped-back vertebrae seems to be impeding the area between the bowel and the sphincter and rectum. If she should be, as anticipated, unable to perform her natural bodily expulsions then there is nothing more that man, God nor science can do for her, except to administer the final injection that will usher her from her pain and into a better place.
Gisèle has been despatched home with medications for complete rest - a return visit to the surgeon is scheduled for Monday, and then we shall know. One way or the other.
STOP PRESS: Since writing the above - Gisèle is very subdued but HAS been able to go to the toilet and HAS eaten her dinner. She has been sleeping most of the day, which is good. She also made a rather sad attempt to wag her tail - there was a little bit of movement. ALL very encouraging. Betty is also being amazingly delicate and taking tender care of her little friend.
We shall keep you posted, dear reader...