Thursday, June 26, 2008

There's a dog in the old life yet

I constantly agonise about whether I should get another dog. Betsy, my black labrador, departed this life three years ago after a baker's dozen on the planet. Since then, I have walked less, put on weight, and had no silken ear to scratch. The other morning I stopped to chat to a farmer's wife (I am very good with farmers' wives. It's my spaniel eyes, I think), and I asked her where her dog, a feisty little terrier, was (He usually rushed out of the yard with a view to sinking his teeth in my leg). Gone, she said.
"Are you going to get another dog?" I asked.
She said 'No, it wouldn't be fair at my age'. She reckoned she would probably go before the dog did. Which disconcerted me, for I guess that she is no older than I, and probably a year or two younger (Not that I would ask, of course. My favourite comment on a lady's age was the man who said "Madam, I have no idea how old you are, but you certainly don't look it.").
There are a number of good reasons for not getting another dog, but hers is not one of them. Let me explain why. Many many years ago, when I was a young married with a good wife, two children and a mortgage, I didn't plant any trees in our garden because, I thought, I probably won't be living here very long before moving on. In the event, we were in that house for over twenty years.
So I learned my lesson, and now I try to behave as if I am going to live for ever. I will plant trees or not, get a dog or not, get married again or not, with no thought at all for the number of years left to me. I will concede, however, that I do tend these days to plant very fast-growing trees.

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