Jumble, the family’s border collie, is fourteen today! This is a very good age for a male dog to reach – though Jake (the b-c before this one) made it to fifteen years and fifty weeks.
Jumble is failing, slowly but surely. Signs of decrepitude – both mental and physical – are ever-more clear and abundant, and I know that I am going to have to make that most difficult of decisions before long.
He came into the family – one of a litter of eight – days before Son and Heir started Primary School – and has lasted, as I hoped he would, the whole of the Lad’s school career.
Upon arrival, he was a tiny Christmas pudding of a puppy, with bright blue eyes (which have, since, faded to brown) and the distinctive Blue Merle colouring some border collies inherit from their parents.
I have vivid memories of the little boy and his tiny canine companion cavorting around the garden, the former (who went on to join a fencing group, Excalibur, when he was seven) wielding toy sword and shield; the latter, shivering with excitement at this new playmate, dodging in and out of his human companion’s legs, barking and running.
Jumble as a puppy – and before he had the Unkindest Cut of All at five months – was a maze of sexual confusion when it came to Boy’s soft toys, and made determined amorous advances to Rajah (a vast, and most realistic looking, toy tiger who dominated the little one’s bedroom) – captured, somewhere, on camera. I do not know where this photo is – and, in the interests of decency, probably wouldn’t share it anyway!
In later years, he developed ‘feelings’ for G’rilla (another soft toy belonging to Son) – and was wont to roger said creature when grandparents were in the house.
Jumble has adored water since he was tiny – and no rhyne is safe where he is concerned. Even now – frail (in the proper sense), partially blind and arthritic – he leaps into every body of water he can find…
…except the bath, which, for some reason, he loathes – and, when forced to get in, stands there, shivering and whimpering like a drowned rat.
He loves walkies – especially on Felton Common (where, until recently, he tried to chase the planes coming in to land!), Velvet Bottom and Blackmoor Reserve. Although he now finds it difficult to get in and out of the car, and can no longer see the wild rabbits which peep out of their burrows early mornings, he still accelerates to a slow run when out in nature – and, for all the loss of sight, his sense of smell (and joy in a good, ripe, demised badger) remains unabated.
He is much loved, always has been – and, as long as I think that he has quality of life and is not suffering hugely, I will put off the dreaded moment.
But, in recent weeks, I have begun to wonder if I am doing what is kindest for him. People who haven’t seen him for a while have commented on his rapid deterioration.
He is a lovely dog – and I hope he will accompany me into the next phase of my life; but, if he doesn’t, he will always have a special place in my heart and will have been the source of many joyous and hilarious memories.
Happy Fourteenth Birthday, Jumble!