Everything is conspiring to make me feel older, greyer, more redundant, hastening to my final demise.
We have Cinder, Hugh and Jemima's young black Lab staying. Lithe, sleek, long-limbed like her mistress, full of verve, vitality and wonderment with the world. On the other hand we have Dusty. White-chopped, plodding, wheezing, snoring, divides her time between eating and sleeping. If you were a virile, handsome, alpha dog, who would you go for?
And yet Dusty is terribly dear. Those soulful eyes, her acceptance of what life throws at her, her dependability. Her very non-skittishness. Surely these are valuable qualities? Plus she does have her own personality and eccentricities, and an occasional single-mindedness to be admired. Her determination to get in that river. The way she nips into any open car boot or passenger footwell, so as not to be left behind. Her sneaky habit of climbing on the forbidden sofa if you go out and leave her alone for too long. It's her way of saying, 'I'm only saying...'
Indeed, Dusty is still adding to her vast fan base. Everyone loves her. Except Cass, which possibly dates back to the time she was sick all over her kitchen floor, and Dan, who says she's insipid, but that's just because he's jealous that she's more quietly intelligent than Digger.