I’m sitting in the sunshine waiting for the vet to arrive – a change to be considering the health of my dog rather than me.
The vet, Heide Coissieux, is a remarkable woman. About my age, she still works full time, is as supple and energetic as a woman 20 years younger, and is gentle, compassionate and skilful with animals.
She cared for our earlier dogs, Boucheka and Sean, at the end of their lives, so my time as a client goes back 17 years.
Heide lives with her family up in the hills, on a remote farm near Campestre. She has lived here for so long that she might as well be French. But she is actually German, and as she once told me, the daughter of a senior Nazi officer. Now she is very much a Cévenol, passionate about the environment and all issues Green.
I just wish she would turn up on time. She takes so long with each animal that I wanted to be first in the queue, arrive 15 minutes early and have been sitting here for 45 minutes.
Well, when Heide did arrive, she spent a leisurely and caring hour with Poppy, who for some reason decided to get herself into a more than usual frenzy about being at the vets.
As usual we had to put a muzzle on while Heide examined her and did the usual rather unpleasant things (emptying anal glands!), though seemed impervious to the usual vaccination and other injections for her dog passport.
I discussed with Heide that Poppy seems a bit more anxious in the months since I came out of hospital and she has prescribed a medication called zylkene for situations when Poppy might be stressed (like now!).
We then talked about the fact that Poppy is putting on weight, despite my cutting down on her diet, and trying to throw her ball to compensate for reduced walks, and the fact that she has been sick three times in the past month. Heide was quite firm that I should take her off the Pedigree Chum (disgusting tins of dog food that Poppy loves) and give her dry food, some of it in a rolling cylinder with holes to encourage her to play/work for her food, and that she should be given four or five small meals through the day, to make the food easier to digest.
That afternoon Poppy was in such a state, panting and trembling, that I went back to Heide, who gave her an injection to calm her. That has happened before, but only when given Frontline to which she was allergic (and now gets a monthly pill, Bravecto, against fleas and tics.
I have just delivered Poppy to Hans and Margaret, so she does not see me pack to go to England. It has not been an easy two days. Yesterday she more or less refused to eat all day, but then wolfed down a large portion while I was away listening to a (very good) concert. Today she did not eat until four and has since refused to touch the dry food. Heide has said it is a question of holding out till she is truly hungry. Hope Hans and Margaret hold out well!
Of course the real torture will be if Margaret cooks anything with cheese, Poppy’s great passion in life.