Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tempus edax rerum

Time is the devourer of things. Though sometimes it just nibbles, while at others it takes big bites.

Janka, our dog, enjoys nothing more than running for a ball. Not even eating. We never gave her a chance to find out about sex, but I think she would still have preferred the ball. So if we don’t take a ball out with her, she’ll find one, and if she can’t find one, she’ll bring a stick for us to throw instead.

Danielle’s been warning me for some time that Janka’s beginning to get on a bit in age. I was sceptical – after all, Janka’s not eight yet, and these dogs have a life expectancy of fourteen to sixteen. Besides she was dashing about all over the place, and would outrun me whenever we went out together. Old? I kept wishing I was that fit.

But this is a subject Danielle knows more about than I do. A couple of months ago Janka’s back legs started to go. She in the early stages of arthritis or dysplasia, and it’s sad to see the effect. One of her worst character traits – deliberately trained into her by my sons, with my tacit connivance because I found it hilarious – was her habit of barking and jumping up all over us when she saw us again after a long absence (e.g. an hour). Today – she can’t do it. The legs won’t take the strain. It’s a high price for a small improvement in behaviour.

Smelling the heather on Cannock Chase: a pleasure more sedate, suitable for a lady no longer in her prime

And the saddest thing of all?

She still brings us balls or sticks to throw; she’s clearly as passionate as ever about chasing them. But the last time we indulged her, she was out of action for a couple of hours after her return home – stretched out on her rug, stiff and in pain. So now it has to be ‘no’, at least until the anti-inflammatory treatment does its stuff, and even then it’s going to be a lot more sparing.

We’ve watched her go from an energetic young girl to an elderly lady with her infirmities in the space of a few weeks.

And doesn’t something like that happen to us all? We age in spurts – only a little, year after year, and then all of a sudden a big decline in a few months. I can’t make up my mind whether it’s a curse or a mercy: on the one hand, we maintain a certain strength, a certain fitness for as long as possible by having our deterioration come suddenly; on the other, the abrupt drop is a shock and a sorrow.

But regular or irregular, it comes on ineluctably, as sure as it may be slow. Time is the devourer of things. Ovid certainly got that bit right.

More pleasures for the elderly: at least she can still paddle when it gets warm

Postscript on the same theme: my fellow blogger Bob Patterson has a great picture making the point that time slips by – more tempus fugit, perhaps, than tempus edax rerum, but the two are related – at


Eva Gallant said...

What kind of dog is she? It is sad to watch a loving companion decline.

(Now that I think about it, my first husband preferred ball to sex also.)

Nice post.

David Beeson said...

She's a puli - they look even funnier with their hair left long as it falls in rasta locks to the ground, but she always struggled with it so we keep her clipped for her comfort.

Sounds like you made a judicious change in your life.

Thanks for the comment

Awoogamuffin said...

Aw, poor Janka. That post made me sad...