Saturday, May 19, 2012

And so farewell .

And now the Wilf the PON blog comes to an end.

A special thank you to all those who commented yesterday . The dog blog world is a place of great kindness and high civility.

Madame Bay arrives to say goodbye to Wilf. She's just too late. The vet is getting into his car as she comes through the gate. Our old housekeeper informs us, eyes brimming with tears, that she suffers from allergies. '' Very bad allergies ". We agree that the pollen count is very high this year. Dabbing her eyes Madame Bay says adieu to 'her boy', tousles his head one last time and quickly leaves.

At the cafe under the arcades the waitress asks after Wilf. When I tell her there's no more need for a half croissant she too bursts into tears. Seeing her rush tearfully inside a Dutch couple at a table by the window glare at me as if I'm some sort of monster .

In the afternoon one of the young vets stops by with some flowers and a card. On it a quote addressed to the PONs : " We are not saints but we have kept our appointment . How many people can say as much ? ". A sweet thought and a fine epitaph.

The family fellow finally sleeping next to his brother on top of the ridge. The old floor tiles from the barn laid above him. Last night a huge lightning storm. As the thunder roars and the rain pelts down ' the font ' turns to me and says " Wilfs warm and safe". 

This morning a trip to the vets with a case of champagne. Without their kindness this blog would have run a shorter course.

Now we have family and friends to see. France to explore . A trip to Maine and Nantucket next month. Then to India. A school for blind girls and a saintly woman who runs a home for stray dogs in Delhi. Maybe California in the early fall. A Cost Centre graduation.  A full house through the summer . Then, perhaps next Spring,two more PON brothers ?

We'll carry on blogging, less  frequently and on different subjects at a new blog

And so , with thanks and best wishes to all who've followed Wilf through his ups and downs, farewell .

Friday, May 18, 2012

To the very end .

A rough night. This morning Wilfs body uncooperative. Gums pale, legs leaden. Not defeated but the will to fight finally gone. He pulls himself out into the garden, settling in the shade of the orchard. His favoured spot.

Familiar, comforting sounds. The frogs in the village pond, Finches, Redstarts, Cicadas, the squabbling sparrows. I sit by him. He lets out a long ' I'm oh so tired ' sigh. Wrapped in his blanket, head buried deep into my lap, back leg sticking out at that comical angle that's always made us laugh. An overgrown puppy. Fur warm to the touch in the morning sun.

There on the cool grass a last chance for dog and master to talk. A look that says so much. '' Is this it ? Will it hurt ? We had good times didn't we ? Do you remember that seal on the beach ? ". He falls asleep then wakes with a start, body tense. '' You'll stay with me ? ". ' To the very end ' I find myself replying aloud. Of this one thing he can be sure. A conversation dog people will understand.

The morning air powerful with the scent of roses and sage. He can't keep water down. Kidneys failing. Far away over the mountains, lightning, and a distant baritone of thunder. The senior vet arrives. Wilfs tail wags. An old friend come to see him. A quick check. A nod of the head. The injection. A gentle 'Adieu' as the needle goes in. A half yawn.'The Font' cradles him. Suddenly the years flare up and are gone ; quicker than a minute . '' Good boy " said to deaf ears.

Wilfs journey completed with dignity. Laughter to the end. All dogs, all people, should go like this. Gently. Unafraid. Loved . Respected. 

Give me a couple of hours and he'll lie next to his brother, on top of the ridge, sheltered by the old oak trees. A view to the mountains . A spot where the house lights linger at night. A good place for a family hero.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spending all he can .

Angus comes back to France leaving ' the font ' and family to follow on later . To say Wilf was happy to see me would be an understatement . Ten minutes of sitting cross legged in the courtyard with a PON in my lap .

A very tough night . Later today I'll have to decide whether it was the interruption to his routine or a repeat of last weeks flare up .

Time is free , but it's priceless.
You can't own it , but you can use it.
You can't keep it , but you can spend it .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In good hands

We have to be in London today . Wilf has been left in good hands . The house stocked with chicken , coconut ice cream and tuna.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Only in France .

Lunch over Wilf is loaded into the back of the car . A slightly uncertain  ' am I off to the vet ? ' look on his face . The vet gives Wilf a full hour of his time . Lots of tickles . The outcome ? Things just slowly shuting down . He doesn't know how ill he is , so he doesn't worry .There's no pain , so no need for pain killers . Restart the Cortisone to ease the breathing and the arthritis . Last weeks flare-up caught in time . One of those things with cancer - ' a candle sputters as it burns ' .

The vet thinks he's happy . Not, the wild, coming to terms with living happiness of a puppy . More like being wrapped in warm cotton wool . A shrinking world of misty edges. Love, trust and routine marking its boundaries.

The vet quotes a line:"Il est vrai que lui aussi doit avoir sa petite chronique" *. Over dinner ' the font ' comments that only in France could a vet quote Beckett and somehow get it right. Absolutely, life affirmingly , beautifully , right . I have to agree. It goes without saying that Wilf does too .

* " It is right that he too should have his little chronicle, his memories, his reason, and be able to recognize the good in the bad, the bad in the worst, and so grow gently old down all the unchanging days, and die one day like any other day, only shorter ".

Monday, May 14, 2012

The laughter still flowing .

For Wilf another day spent dozing in the shade of the cherry trees. Salmon for lunch and chicken for dinner . In fact two helpings of chicken for dinner. A walk to the stream .He falls asleep with his head resting on ' the fonts ' foot . A little coconut ice cream as a treat before he settles down for the night . He hears the fridge door open and is miraculously standing in the middle of the kitchen floor. Sprightly and beaming .

His breathing rougher this morning . He can't find his way to his food or the water bowl as easily as he did before last weeks scare. ' The font ' will take him to the vet today to have his lungs checked and make sure there's no pain. There's something deeply right about this unhurried journey but we want to be certain his days remain gentle. Difficult to say who's happier about this extended farewell . Dog or owner . The laughter still flowing . A small canine triumph .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The giant paella dish .

Saturday night. The Saints Day dinner. Sainte Rolende. One of the lesser known saints . Farmers, their wives, tractors, small white vans , chairs , blankets, dogs and toddlers scattered haphazardly across the village green . In the midst of it all a fire with Willy's giant paella bubbling merrily away . We are introduced to Willy . A jovial man who inherited the giant paella dish from his father . '' Two metres forty in diameter and weighs ninety three kilos " . Angus unsure of how to respond to the proud owner of a giant paella dish makes an ' I'm amazed  '  whistling noise.

Wilf settles down next to ' the font '  . The other dogs come to say hello but quickly leave him alone . Canine understanding . Wilf discovers he likes seafood paella. A clear " why did you never tell me about squid ? " look on his face . Protracted lip smacking, then a sigh, then it's time to fall asleep .We leave when the old farmer starts to play the accordion . '' Going so soon ? " shouts Madame Bay .

This morning the procession leaves the church at six thirty . Wilf asleep at the foot of the stairs . When I open the door the sunlight falls on him. His fur glows . A great way to start a Sunday in France Profonde .