Three walks in one day?
What dog would not be delirious with joy?
Saturday began with a romp round the forest, a five-mile run with the squirrels and the deer. Macaulay the family dog’s utter favourite.
And then nine-year-old Felix expressed a desire to do one of his scooterthons. This entails the family hitching up the dog on a lead and following my son through the winding alleys of the houses between us and the great old house down the road. Felix chooses the route.
The dog looked gratified as we took the lead down for a second time.
Round and round the houses we went, arriving back in time for dinner. And then- could it be? Following a family after-dinner rest, the two adults proposed a walk to the other great house, a couple of miles away, and off we set again, across the forest and far away.
On the way back, Mac was flagging. The spirit was willing but the flesh weak; there were still scents to smell and markers to leave, but the little scruffy dog had nothing left to give.
And there was something else: he did not quest ahead; he stayed close between us, keeping Phil as a talisman on one side, me on the other.
But we thought nothing of it.
Back at home, he sought a soft place to lie. And twenty minutes later, when I came up to check, it transpired he had chosen the pristine duvet of my daughter’s bed. No! I admonished, and when he did not move I moved closer.
Mac does this thing. If you ever try to move him by pulling his collar he just freezes. He knows he is much harder to move if he just does a sit-in. And usually, when one calls his bluff and pulls him off a bed or a sofa, his legs miraculously work by the time he reaches the ground.
So I pulled.
And the little dog could not find his legs. He met the floor nose-first.
It seemed that Macaulay was poorly.
I spent a great deal of time apologising to him. But whilst well Macaulay would have cashed in on my chagrin, poorly Macaulay was not interested. He just wanted to sleep.
We made a bed on the sofa in our bedroom and lined it with soft duvet. We put a bowl of fresh cold water nearby, and the dog got up, and the dog slept. In the air above him hung wretchedness.
And thus, the whole family moped and fretted.
Clive Bond, the sleek black family feline, is only just out of kittenhood, and Mac is his chosen surrogate parent. We heard a soft warning rumble from the dog, and turned to see that the cat had simply walked up and stood foursquare on Macaulay’s poorly tummy, craning down. Was the dog coming out to play?
No. The cat responded obediently to the rumble and pottered off.
In the middle of the night, Mac got up for the first time to have a long draft of water.
And yesterday, all day, he convalesced.
Lat night I relented. He got up on our bed and I did not shoo him off. We just fussed over him and urged him on towards wellness.
Now the dog cashed in.
He turned on his back and regally received tummy rubs and other homages as his right. He lay there, in heaven, tousled and disreputable, ecstatic with all four paws in the air and a tail which once more wagged.
Let us see if the experience has brought back his joie de vivre in a forest romp this morning.