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Quote of the day: ‘Hazard of a vet’s job: That’s Eau de Anal Gland you smell.’ - Kelly Moran

Simon’s apt offering: ‘I taught my dog how to play the trumpet on the tube the other day. I got from Barking to Tooting in ten minutes.’

Prior to the potager’s seeing to last weekend, another of Simon’s too numerous to mention tasks was to harvest the remaining parsnips and carrots that were still slumbering in the soil. I’m excused from digging them up this year - hurrah!

They seem to be relatively unaffected by the hard frosts we have had. Indeed, parsnips are said to be more flavoursome after a frost. I’m not sure of the science behind that but I figure we’ve done a pretty good trial leaving them in the soil as long as we have.

Only thing to do now is to peel and do something with the hearty harvest. I’m not excused for that job - boo! - but will need help converting them into something edible, as my maximum lift capacity is only meant to be 5kg and that is after 2 months healing.

Given I’m only just over three weeks post-op, I’m not going to stuff it up lifting heavy saucepans.

There’s a lot of peeling and washing to do. Spiced parsnip soup or roast parsnips are on the horizon but I’m not much smitten with anything else.

Arnold has been back to the vets again. Same thing - very off colour, not wanting to go on walks for a couple of days, tail between his legs, not moving properly and unable to climb stairs, very depressed, possibly in pain or at least very uncomfortable.

Of course, this necessitates me working myself into yet another frenzy of overdramatic worry about how many days he has left with us and where I should bury him.

Thankfully Mathieu the vet can see him this very afternoon. We are single-handedly keeping his practice going at present and are pretty sure the dogs have signed a contract with him, them feigning illness to us, ensuring his turnover is perpetually boosted.

As I sit with the dejected pooch on my knees, tears welling in my eyes at the imminent demise of my darling hound, he seems calmer and starts to relax. After some ten minutes of gentle stroking, I’m aware of a sudden, very fierce and repulsive smell. A noxious odour that I have not smelt before. Both pungent and intriguing, akin to rotting fish. ‘I must empty the bin,’ I say to myself, wrinkling my nose. Suddenly, Arnie’s nose starts to twitch and he whips round to his nether regions. The smell is vile and liquid is seeping from his bottom.

Onto my hand.

Deepest joy.

Straight down on to the floor he goes, as I frantically and feverishly try and wash away the stench. He’s engaging in a frenzy of licking to clean himself up too.


So could this be the the problem?

Arnie isn’t terribly brave at the best of times when going to the vets. Of course, had he known what was to happen he would have been even more reluctant to stand on the elevating table. Simon holds him close as Mathieu examines him fully from top to bottom, so to speak.

His diagnosis is that his melancholic demeanour could perhaps be that Monsieur Arthur Ritis has set in. Given that he will be 11 this year, it’s possible. An injection is duly administered Which will take 48 hours to show if it has had an effect.

Arnie doesn’t flinch but he’s not happy, pressing himself further into Simon’s stomach, edging his way towards the steep drop onto the floor.

Much more likely for his terrible discomfort are the dreaded anal glands though, as his lack of va va voom came on pretty quickly. Before you can say ‘lubrication’, Mathieu’s ‘in there’, quite literally, and squeezing quantities of noxious smelling gunge from inside, at approximately 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock representationally to Arnie’s tail.

The indignity of it all! Poor little chap didn’t have a chance. It was all done before he barely registered what was happening.

As he comes in the door at home, the embarrassment is written all over his face. He slinks off into his bed but good news, it’s canine supper time. Mortification clearly behind him, when he hears the chink of bowls and the rattling of croquettes he’s ready and waiting, tail wagging - a marked difference to yesterday.

Best of all, he happily comes for the post-supper walk up the drive and round the entire circuit, back down towards the lake, sniffing as he goes. Trotting easily, as the tension seems to have lifted and he’s moving properly. Even his extraordinarily mobile ears have regained their life, ‘on guard’ and standing to attention again, instead of giving him the wounded look of sitting in a wind tunnel, they were pinned so far back.

A totally different dog. Quelle soulagement! (Such a relief!).

For a while.

As time progresses he appears quiet and calm but perhaps too much so. We will keep an eye on things and see how he fairs tomorrow but at present it’s reasonably good news. Mathieu said to let him know how he is on Saturday morning.

Thinks… there’s a barrow load of parsnips outside. Full of fibre too. Dogs love ‘em apparently.

Those ears are truly ridiculous!



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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