Regular readers will know that the above mutt is my beloved dog Milly, slumped on her beanbag under my writing desk. She's my silent secretary, door greeter, loud yawner, soft-snorer, best buddy and ex-running companion.
A couple of months ago, at the tender age of four, she was diagnosed with arthritis so severe that running of any kind was expressly verboten. Forever. In addition, she had to lose 2kg in order to give her two back legs an easier task getting her from A (beanbag) to B (the lawn outside for a whizz). This seemed doubly cruel - no runs with Mum (me), her favourite activity; and why the hell was she suddenly getting about a quarter of the food she used to get? And how come nobody would throw the tennis ball anymore?
Still, we persisted with the no running/potential starvation/anti-tennis ball stance, and the vet was thrilled to announce that she was slim, trim and had regained the twinkle in her caramel-brown eyes.
Like my father, she is now on a permanent treatment regime of glucosamine and fish oil. Shoving a thumb-sized white glucosamine tablet down her throat is a bit of a hairy, drool-slicked wrestle first thing in the morning but luckily she likes the taste of the oil sprinkled over her meagre meal, and her exercise is now a five minute walk to Sapphire's school gate for morning drop off and afternoon pick up. Quite the change from 6km runs, frantic Koster park dashes and backyard happy laps.
This change in her lifestyle got me thinking about how accepting our furry friends are. She is still thrilled to see Sapphire, Love Chunks and myself when we return from being out for the entire day or back from a two minute trot to the corner shop and, once back inside, makes sure that she's within touching proximity of at least one of us and within viewing range of the other two. She loves being tethered to the school fence at 3pm, to be surrounded by a gaggle of kids wanting to pat her straight after the bell rings. She patiently endures some of the more excitable kids' demonstrations of affection and will flip over onto her back to increase the likelihood of a tummy scratch.
Despite her relative silence (she's not much of a barker), it is her tail that speaks volumes.
- Swish Swish Swish - on the beanbag, she sees me wake up and is both happy about this and asking me to let her out to sniff the chooks and drop a doodoo under the tree.
- Bling bling bling- she's staring up at us sitting at the breakfast bar on stools, her tail hitting the chrome legs, willing us to hurry the hell up with our coffees and give her something to eat already.
- Thocka Thocka Thocka - her darling daddy Love Chunks is looking directly at her! He's Milly's ultlimate ALPHA MALE! Even her back half starts to wag as she drums out her dance of devotion: 'Love Chunks! I looooooooooooooove you! Please lift me up off the floorboards and sweep me up into your muscly arms and let me kisssss you! Please?'
- Doing Doing Doing - she likes to sit directly under theglass coffee table, watching ABC kids with Sapphire on school mornings and hoping to get a scratch behind the ear.
- Slap Slap Slap - waiting eagerly by the laundry door for me to get her lead and take her walking to school. She does this with such eagerness I'm surprised that her tail doesn't hurt at the effort.
- Whiff Whiff Whiff - The ultimate, these days. She's finally allowed off her lead, at the park. All the grass to sniff, wee on and eat. At least one dead bird to roll in, one half-eaten Maccas burger to find and perhaps a passing pram with some bare baby feet hanging out waiting for a quick lick. Oh, the possibilities.....
I reckon if we humans had tails, life would be a lot easier and much more pleasant. We'd know who was genuinely happy, who was ecstatic, who was worried, who was brow-beaten, who was wary and who was angry. It would rid us all of dishonest politicians, sales people, reality show failures and failed marriages.
If only. Let's hope that evolution decides that this is a good idea and speeds up the process faster than global warming.