The yipping started at about 5.55 this morning. At first I thought Oscar wanted to be let out of his exclusive pad behind the bifold doors of the new sitting room. It was dark and I hate getting up in the morning so I left it. When I went downstairs half an hour later, MsDD was there with a mop, clearing up an “accident.” Whereupon she burst into tears and voiced exactly what I had been thinking since the last time this happened, three weeks ago. “I can’t bear the thought of my doggy getting old.” 

Oscar is, as you know, our first dog and completely and utterly beloved. He is always there to dance with us or jump up for a hug, to kiss away our tears. And this is the first intimation that he might not always be there. And it’s almost unbearable.

Flatcoated retrievers, having been reconstituted from the brink of extinction, often have immunity problems and a higher than average susceptibility to cancer. This utterly delightful breed is not long-lived and I had been warned that they year from 7 to 8 years old can be a tricky time. Oscar is probably a bit young yet for age-related incontinence so I’m wondering if the problem is something else, something I don’t want to know about.

I don’t fear my own death, you see. For me you’re born, you live as good a life as you can and then you die. That’s it. And if you’re lucky the people you knew will smile whenever the thought of you occasionally crosses their mind. But the death of a beloved, faithful companion is something to dread. We can’t explain to them what’s happening. We can’t replace the way they’re always pleased to see us. Perhaps, though, this is one of the most important aspects of having a pet: that they will eventually pass over that Rainbow Bridge and we shall remember them joyfully. They teach us that life is short and it is to be lived to the full.

What shall I do about Oscar? I need some advice from people who have experience of this sort of situation. My initial thought was that we should take him out earlier and let him out to the toilet as soon as he starts yipping. (I am so glad that, maybe in anticipation of this, I replaced my cream carpet with easily mappable slate and a George vacuum cleaner.) Perhaps I should make an appointment with the vet. Apparently, diminishing bladder control can be treated with drugs. Or it might be something more sinister. I need to find out for sure.