Today was Oscar’s seventh birthday. There was time when I didn’t think he’d even see his fifth. He is our beloved first dog who has taught us a lot about unconditional love and forgiveness and living in the moment, relishing every new day.

I normally make Oscar a birthday cake – he loves Madeira cake – but all my baking tins are packed away in storage so instead I bought him a birthday doughnut. We managed to find a candle from the Christmas table decoration to adorn the doughnut and sang Happy Birthday to him.

I’ve noticed lately that Oscar has slowed down and is nowhere near as bouncy as he has always been. He’s getting quite skinny too. Seven can be a difficult age for a flatcoated retriever so I am contending with the ever-present niggle that he might not have much time left or that he’s losing weight for a sinister reason but he seems OK in himself at the moment.

I’ve noticed that Oscar has become rather more cautious recently. In previous years he would have posed quite happily in front of burning birthday candles but today he seemed to want to hide from the flame. He enjoyed his doughnut though.