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Oliver is dying.

He’s fourteen, which is pretty old for a Pembroke Corgi. We knew it was coming. About a year ago his back legs sort of stopped working. That happens in Corgis as they age, back problems lead to localized paralysis. One day he was out running around, the next he was dragging himself by the forelegs.. Stacy got him a butt harness, so she could hold up his rear end for their walks. Oliver didn’t seem to mind. He went everywhere, met everyone. Whenever a female dog went into heat his one floppy ear stood up and he started dragging his one-balled body in her direction, ready to do what male dogs are supposed to do when a bitch is in heat. He still had a happy bark for everyone, still dragged himself to the foot of her bed or the door, still guarding the woman who took him in.

Stacy is crying. I can’t console her, can’t even hold her from 400 miles away. She’s too proud, the kind who thinks that she should bear this burden because no one else can. It’s been a bad year. Her cat Rip Rip (from the Ripper , as in Jack) died suddenly last winter. Now it is Oliver’s time. She loves her animals. They are the children she never had, the lovers who never betrayed her. A dog doesn’t care if you gain weight or your boobs start sagging. They don’t cheat on you, not ever. They don't ask for much.. All they want is fresh water, food and a nice long walk, play and talk. Do that and every day they’ll greet you at the door, ears perked and bouncy, ready to play.

Oliver was an old boy when Stacy took him home. He was getting too old to work, and he was too much top dog to put up with the new dog on the block. No, he wanted to be out there, to be number one, doing his part, watching the horses. They fought, and so Stacy took him back to Virginia, where Oliver only need worry about only one human and two cats. Where he could sit there with his one floppy ear and make sure that his Mom happy.

But dogs and cats don’t live so long. They aren’t mummified in our tombs to accompany us onto the journey into the next life. And I’m not even sure there is an afterlife. Heaven may not be a place prepared for us, but rather something we are to build on Earth. For if we live the way the scriptures say we are supposed to live, and build a world full of people who look out for each other, who think to listen before talking, who think to give before taking, who aren’t convinced that theirs is the Only Way, whose to say that would not be Heaven? Is Heaven found a place where people strum harps in puffy clouds, or is Heaven glimpsed when we break bread with our friends and share ideas? Animals perhaps understand Heaven's true nature better than men.

Either way , there are pets in Heaven. And if there is an afterlife when our time comes the creatures who loved us in life will be there waiting to share a new story, a tasty beer and a hug.

When her time comes and Stacy passes from this world, I guarantee you that Oliver will be the first one there. His legs will work again and all he’ll want is a scratch behind the ear, and a chance to go walking with Mom.

I suspect her friends will just decide to tag along. Oliver won’t mind. He doesn’t mind sharing because he has faith. Dogs understand so much more than people.

This happened a while ago, but one or two of you might have as much a dislike of visiting the Doctor's as I, so might find it interesting

Yesterday I woke up with a pain in the center of my chest. I put it down to an anxiety attack (not that I would recognise having one) following from the 5th, that was a rough day. Drank a bottle of Gaviscon and forgot about the pain.

Woke up this morning (Sunday). Pain is a bit worse, gettin' kinda tricky to catch my breath and as simple an exercise as walking up the stairs made my heart beat so fast that I thought it was goin' to burst through my ribs. Needless to say I felt pretty grotty but I didn't have time to fuss about it, it's a big day today. Today is lil' Rob's 4th Birthday!! I can't believe it's been four years since I got (unwillingly) dragged into the hospital with Jackie while she did her howling banshee/constipated buffalo impersonation to get the lil' dude out. Man, the years have flown by.

So, big party day. Dozens of kids. Tons of presents. Crowd of parents and friends. Jelly, ice cream and cheese with pineapple on sticks. Party games. Loud music. Kids eating too much. Tired kids crying. Tired parents taking them home. Cleaning the mess up. Carrying a sleeping but happy Rob to his bed. Good stuff! ............ All the way through it I felt like I was gonna pass out, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

7pm and I get home. My chest now feels like there is an elephant standing on it. Not good. I deliberate a bit but finally decide that I better drag my behind into the hospital and go see the Out of Hours Doctor. (Out of Hours? That's the last thing yer wanna hear at a doxy's if yer ask me). I don't feel much like driving (and even less like crashing if I pass out) so I get a taxi. The taxi driver speeds like a maniac until I promise him that I won't be dying in his cab.

I walk into the doxy's reception room. It's empty. Behind the glass screen a very stern receptionist glares at me, she has been watching Coronation Street through the glass screen in the waiting room. I glare back. I'm in no mood for snooty people at the moment.

"Name" she demands. She'd make a good Sergeant Major this one.
I give her my name. She checks some paperwork in front of her.
"You don't seem to have an appointment" She looks at me over the top of her glasses
. "Do I need an appointment? This is the Out of Hours Doctors ain't it?"
"Yes it is. But you still should have telephoned ahead and made an appointment" I wonder if I've upset her, some people can be very passionate about tv soap operas.
"Ok, I can appreciate that. But I just need to see the doctor." I say in my most polite manner.
"I'm afraid that is impossible without an appointment. If you wish to see a doctor then you'll have to go to the casualty department" Countess Charisma, she isn't.
"Casualty? Are you joking, it's Sunday night! Every drunk who fancies a day off work tomorrow will be in the casuatly department! It'll take bloody hours!" My heart is beating out a quick bossanova on my ribs. Be calm Oz.
"Look" she removes her glasses "you can't just walk in here without an appointment. There are rules you know. Things have to run as intended"
I look behind me at the empty waiting room. "If things run any slower here, they'll bloody stop!"
Then another voice interrupts. A female voice that sounds tired. "Just send the gentleman through Susan"
I flash Susan the receptionist a quick smile. To her credit she doesn't grimace at me and simply gives me directions to the Doctor's office.

Now doctors, as you know, come in all shapes and sizes. Personnally I don't care if they have three heads and a humped back. It's their brains I'm interested in. The only ones that I dislike are the Indian/Pakistani doctors. Not that I have anything agianst their ethnic origin. It's just that 99% of the time their accents are so strong that I spend the whole visit saying "eh?" or nodding my head and hoping that I haven't just volunteered to donate a kidney or something.

This doctor, however, is just what I was hoping she'd be. Middle aged, rather large body, wedding ring on her finger and she had a nice warm friendly face with just a hint of a blonde moustache. Good old fashioned matronly type who got sick of emptying bedpans and got her Dr degree. Smashing.

She doesn't have my medical records here so we have to go through the whole rigmarole of age/height/weight/ etc then any illness.......any illnesses run in the family.......any mental illness.......any mental illness in the family? (I had a great uncle who returned from the Korean War and for years afterward he wouldn't leave the house without a pocketfull of cooked rice, but I decide not to mention him).

Finally we get around to the current problem. I describe my symptoms. She asks me about any recent illness, the only thing I can think of is that I had a couple of nasty lung infections last year. Onto the examination.

She asks me to strip to my waist. Not a problem. Then she tells me that she is going to take my bloodpressure, this is where the problems start.

I stick my arm out towards her and she pulls her chair closer so that her right breast (and she has a very ample bust) is brushing against my right hand. Before she wraps the blood pressure gadget around my upper arm she grabs the arm and twists it so that my right hand is now cupping her right breast! I nearly jumped out of the chair! I'm about to pull my hand away when she says "hold still now, I need to attach this". She doesn't make any effort to move and I'm sat there while she pumps the bloodpressure gadget and I have a handfull of her right tit! This is just too weird and I swear that under my third finger I can feel her nipple becoming hard. For all this was a weird situation, I must confess that I was tempted to give a little squeeze, thank gods I still have a small amount of willpower left. The blood pressure reading is taken, she unwraps the gadget and pushes her chair back. "your blood pressure is reading a little high" she informs me.......somehow I'm not surprised.

Then she examines my chest. Prods various places and asks me where/if it feels tender. Luckily it does. I say luckily because the pain distracts me as during the exmination the little finger of her right hand is rubbing my left nipple. The examination is over and I'm sure that my blood pressure has now gone through the roof. She sits back again and gives me a warm smile. All I can think is "Oh shit. I'm about to have a heart attack and the last action I'll do on this earth is shag the doctor"........not what I was planning for my final swansong.

To my relief she returns to her proffesional duty. She tells me that I'm not having a heart attack. It seems that the cartilege in my ribs has retained some of my last infection and has swollen. Putting a little presure on my heart and lungs. She is going to give me an anti-inflammatory injection and a perscription for ibuprofen. Sounds good, looks like I'm on the planet for a while longer.

I pull on my t-shirt while she leaves the room to prepare the injection. She returns with another smile and a syringe, I'm not sure which one I'm most wary of. She leads me behind a curtained section of the office and I offer her my arm. But no, the injection has to be administered in my backside. Now why didn't I guess that it would?

So there I am, leaning over the back of a chair with my trousers and boxers around my ankles and an amorous doctor behind me. My imagination is running wild, I nearly burst out laughing as i imagine her chubby warm hand delicately carressing my unmentionables. I've been in some strange positions in my life, but this, both physically and mentally, is one of the strangest. I physically jump as something cold is pressed on my buttock. Quickly realising that it's probably just the cotton wool bud with antiseptic on it. A hand is put on my shoulder and she says "ok Graham, you won't feel a thing" I don't mind feeling something, as long as it's what I'm supposed to feel and nothing else. The injection is made. She taps my buttock with her warm fingers. There is a pause and I take advantage of it, pulling my boxers and trousers back up in double quick time. I turn to her, yet another smile and she tells me that she will fill out my perscription and then I'll be able to go.

I get out of the hospital and telephone a taxi. On the way home I tell the taxi driver about the troublesome doc.

"You should have shagged her mate" he says laughing "would have done her husband a favour I bet" I laugh with him, "Shagged her? No way, she knows where I live!"

I get home and the injection starts working. Next time I'm ill, I'll call a vet.

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