Our walks are shorter now and less frequent. Even rug surfing , meerkat hunting and swing biffing are losing some of their appeal. Rather than do 'boy' things Wilf is getting to the stage where he'd prefer to settle down in the warmth and bustle of the kitchen and dream of turbot braise au beurre d'herbes or filet de chevreuil au jus de noix or , best of all, coconut ice cream.
The changes are small and gradual. The growth on his head has become larger and has been joined in the last few days by a second smaller growth. He continues to eat enthusiastically but without putting on an ounce of weight. The early morning charge out of the front gate now gone, replaced by a more leisurely progress across the village green. Things just take longer to register, careful pondering becoming the norm. Much time is now spent standing in the middle of the road deliberating whether to go right or left. At night he comes, regular as clockwork at nine thirty, and sits staring at us : "You youngsters might want to stay up but it's my bedtime". The routines of a lifetime gently fraying, the trust more absolute than ever.
For 'the font' and myself an unbridled joy in these halcyon , unexpected, moments with our old family friend. Laughter as he scampers noisily through the piles of freshly fallen leaves or explores the drainage ditches or christens the freshly excavated mole hills. For him a safe world of wonder,love and awe. Then those moments when we remember the simple promise made - no pain. Foreknowledge , a dog owners gift and burden in equal measure.