My love, my darling, my wondrous hairy beast. There you lie on your cushion, like Cleopatra or Caligula on a good day, receiving nibbles of banana and general worship. Your leg is shaved, soft and bare, vulnerable and naked, a neat stitched wound on either side. I smear on iodine gel, treacly and thick. As soon as my back is turned you lick it off with toddler glee, no sign of the geriatric years. Even the vet said he couldn't believe your age; like my mother you've been fiddling with the date on your passport.
I carried you home early, knowing you couldn't abide a night away, and there you lay, stiff, sore, drunk on anaesthetic, sleeping unnaturally, doped up, suffering. Your whole back end was unstable, the good leg twisted askew and I lurched inside; had they done something irreparable to you? In the middle of the night I crept down to check on you and your tail wagged, my fears of paralysis daft, unfounded. By morning you were willing to have a go at standing, by the afternoon you were hopping about gamely on three legs, brain clear, eyes bright.
A month lies ahead of taking you outside on the lead just to go to the toilet, absolutely no exercise allowed. For two further months it's light exercise on the lead only. It'll be mid-February before you can hurtle round the farm, roll in snow, leap with Fenn. By then your hair will have grown back, and you will be my shaggy haired monster, not my delicate girl.
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