There's a real end-of-the-year feel about today. Because of the high autumn winds in Pembrokeshire, many of the leaves get ripped off the trees and fall to the ground to rot before they change colour on the branches. But the leaves that are still there are starting to turn. The Japanese maple that we planted a few years ago looks especially nice:
There's a clear blue sky and bright sunshine, and the wind is light, so we decided to take the dog to the beach. The sea was a fabulous turquoise blue, and the air was clear, enabling you to see for miles.
Newgale is a fantastic beach, with about two miles of smooth white sand and, especially at this time of year, rarely crowded. Today there were probably only 10-20 people within sight at any time, and at times, none.
I say there were few people around, but of course having a Labrador means that, of those few, none were unvisited and uninspected. He's a friendly old boy, and is especially fond of children, so he was in his element today. But, sadly, today also made it clear how age is catching up with him. He's always had problems with LSD (Labrador Selective Deafness, where he and only he decides what commands he is prepared to listen to), but today it seems as though real deafness is developing. It's the first time I have even known him not respond to the word 'biscuits'. His eyesight is now poor, and for him to see and chase a ball it has to be thrown directly in front of him. Anything thrown to the side, he just doesn't see.
The saddest thing is the way he is deteriorating physically. He's always been big and strong, and very fast on his feet for a big dog. When he was about a year old, I threw a ball on the same beach and measured his stride length when he was chasing it. Between the front paw marks on each stride was a full 12 feet. He hardly touched the ground. Today, I did the same, and he managed about half that. He can still run, but you can see he is stiff and hurting. He's finding it hard to get in the back of the car now as well. I had to help him in both times.
It comes to us all, I suppose. I'm feeling my age myself these days. Nothing works quite as well as it used to.
I'm told that getting a puppy when your dog is old is a way to keep them young and sprightly for longer, so perhaps we need to start looking for a little pal for the old bugger.
End of the year, things coming to an close; a melancholy time.