And My News

I wrote that last post as it was something I had been thinking about. And as a way to distract myself from what is going on right here. 
In case you are waiting to hear about Bonnie, here is the news.
Yesterday the results arrived from the biopsy and it was confirmed she has an aggressive cancer, a lymphoma. The traditional treatment would be chemotherapy to slow down the growth of the tumour and possibly buy her more time, up to 9 months. 
There are several treatment options, all of them causing possible side effects with the most powerful being the worst and the single drug option being perhaps too weak to make a difference.
We also have to keep in mind that Border Collies have a special sensitivity to chemotherapy. They don’t always deal with it well.
Now it is decision time. Not just about that but about diet and chosing between the vast array of natural supplements which are  known to be possibly tumour reducing.  And where do I spend these last months with her?  Here in the city with no garden?  On the Costa Brava at Sant Nicolau in a beautiful and much loved environment but far away from my normal life?  Or do I even consider a mad dash up through France to get her ‘home’ to Cornwall?
November always has this shady side.  A month when fears and shadows can loom large. 
The desire to bury my head under the duvet threatens to overwhelm me.
But I must be Bonnies decision-maker and primary carer even though I feel totally inadequate for the task.
I am not ready. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, not yet. 
She meanwhile seems well, or so I think. She is eating and sleeping and playing ball as usual.  I try not to look at her with a mournful gaze.  I am stroking her head with fast soft repetitive caresses as recommended by the Dog Cancer Vet. It is supposed to remind her of her mother licking her face when she was a puppy and it’s true that she always ends up falling gently asleep

A Few Days On

  • It didn’t take Bonnie long to recover from the surgery. We knew she was better when her tail, which had been hidden for days between her legs, bobbed back upright and stayed there except for when I approached her with a pill wrapped in a piece of cheese.  More strangely I also have risen to the surface again even though for a few days I was submerged under a wave of tears and sneezes. I feel fine. I know there is a problem, I know there is danger of huge pain to come, but right now I feel good.
  • The good wishes and messages of love from family and friends helped so much. Never underestimate the power of a message to someone in pain.  When there is something difficult going on it is a million times worse if you feel alone.  But when you feel wrapped in the caring thoughts of other people, strength comes to help you deal with whatever life throws your way.


  • The internet is an amazing gift in our lives. It would take too long to list all the useful things I have found recently…… help on all levels, practical, emotional and spiritual. But right now I am thinking about the information about Trigger Points which I used to almost totally cure the pain I had in my ankle.  Thank you Paul Ingraham & Tim Taylor.


  • And then I found an e-book called the Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr Demian Dressler.  The vet who wrote it seemed to be speaking directly to me.  He starts by telling you that it is important that you fully face up to the role of Primary Caregiver for your dog. And to do this you first need to get yourself as strong and fit and clear headed as possible. ‘Put on your own oxygen mask first‘.   Then you can start to connect more deeply to your dog so that decisions made will be coming from her needs.  A lovely suggestion was to tell her the stories of her life. We started this sitting on a park bench a few days ago when Bonnie jumped up beside me and seemed to want only to sit quietly by my side. There are so many stories to tell.



  • Since then we have been enjoying a lot of good moments together. We are waiting for the results of the biopsy and as she has returned to normal health after the exploratory surgery it is almost possible to forget there is a problem. But I am very aware of it and of the precious nature of this time together. It is as if we have entered a new world….every moment full of delight in each others company. She is coming up onto the sofa too… you remember that Catalan men don’t like dogs on the furniture?    Well, I have a sofa here that is mine and now Bonnie can lie beside me whenever she wants.  For goodness sake, who is going to lie on the ground to cuddle their dog?
  • We went to the vet for a checkup yesterday and on the way home visited the pet shop to buy a new toy. Squeaky toys are her favourites.  I made a film of her playing with it and added some music but now YouTube won’t let me upload it because of copyright restrictions. If I succeed I will get it on here but if not then I’ll take off the music (which was perfect…I Feel Fine by the Beatles) and put on something else.  Meanwhile here is a photo of herself and the Squeaky Toy!

Baby’s good to me you know,
She’s happy as can be you know,
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

On Finding Out That My Dog Has Cancer

  • The vet decided I was the sort of person who could cope with seeing a photo of my dogs insides.  He explained about the little white lines on the intestines which show lymph collecting where it shouldn’t ought to be. ‘What’s that?’ I said pointing at the large mass of pink red and purple flesh just below where the gloved hand was holding her guts up to the camera. ‘That’s the tumour’  Oooooffff it is bigger than a large mans hand!
  • On the first two days I cried a lot. I don’t mean I sat and sobbed on the sofa but waiting in a queue at the bakers my eyes filled up and welled over, telling a friend the news I felt my words wobble before my shoulders followed suit, I cycled through town with my face soaking with tears.  Then it stopped. Where do they go those tears?  At the vet for a checkup after the surgery there was a woman sobbing without shame.  She was flanked by two sad looking men who occasionally patted her knee, setting off another bout of wails.  The day my crying stopped I started yet another cold with streaming nose and violent sneezing.
  • The first day my partner kept complaining of feeling cold. He was wrapped in a thick coat but his hands were icy. I asked over and over again ‘How are you?’ and was disappointed that he seemed so emotionally distant. It was the next day before I realised it was shock – he had frozen and I had forgotten about arnica.
  • This says something about my life here in this house:- I was grateful when the Resident Adolescent (now strictly speaking a Resident Teenager) stopped in the hallway to ask ‘How is Bonnie?’  This must be the first real conversation we have had in over a year. And it only lasted for three sentences. 
  • After surgery dogs sometimes get constipated. Internet searches recommend mashed pumpkin. Unfortunately pumpkin is also high in carbohydrates and carbohydrates feed the cancer.  I worry a lot about food. Why not continue to give her raw meaty bones?  So I do. Then I worry that she can’t digest it.  So I boil it up and have to painstakingly remove the meat by hand.  Rice? Vegetables?  She needs fibre but I don’t want that mass to get food. That photo of her insides haunts me a little.
  • Day four and we walk a bit further in search of a bowel movement. She is peeing a lot – is it the Kidneys?– she stops and sniffs around raising my hopes but no, she pees again.  It reminds me of the quest for an orgasm “Don’t be goal oriented, just enjoy the moment”   We walk, meet other dogs, birds fly over, the strong wind blows little sandstorms into our faces, then she starts to sniff the ground and circle around a special patch of grass. “Is this it?  Come on darling, just relax.’ No she just pees again.
  • I was happy that she started eating so well after the surgery then I told the vet and he said, ‘the cancer needs to be fed – it will make her hungry’.  That thought doesn’t help me when I am planning what to put in her bowl.  I need to find a new way of dealing with my thoughts.
  • When she dies – if it is in weeks or months or even years from now – I will miss her face, the feel of her fur, the way she brightens up at the sight of a ball, the ease of her company, her muzzle pressed into my hand, her silent almost invisible presence at my heels when we walk. So now and every day I want to really enjoy her, in this moment, fully present not in a worrying anxious over-protective way, but just being with her 100%.

I have no idea how many people read this blog. And I don’t know who you are.  I am lucky if I get one comment after each post and so have decided to turn this apparent failure into something positive and to free myself to write what I want.  I don’t know what you want to read but I am very clear about what I want to write so starting now, here is what matters to me.

Saturday night much needed Vermut

As Fly Lady says, ‘you are not behind, just start from where you are’   So……

I’ve just had a friend to stay with me here in Granollers who I haven’t seen for two, or is it three years?  We had one of those wonderful weeks where there is plenty of time to catch up with everything but not in one great gulp.  We let the conversation meander between memories of when we were 6 and first met, to recent life changes, to current concerns, to music, back to families, stories from when we were teenagers, drugs, books and poems, kittens and dogs and everything else in between.

I’ll try to do the same thing now with you, letting the subjects rise and fall in their own rhythm.

I gave up my fasting diet for the week and ate and drank solidly throughout. It was lovely but now I’ll be returning with pleasure to the 5/2 diet where for 2 days a week you reduce your calories and feel hungry for a change. I’m pushing myself to get fully into kilos and grams and let go of pounds and ounces in more ways than one!

The Foot
Every morning this week I cycled to The Mútua for physiotherapy on my foot.
The journey up through France and north to Scotland then back down again caused a repetitive strain tendinitis in my left ankle.
I now know that this is a common injury and could have been avoided if I had rested more.   It didn’t start hurting until it was too late and by then I still had to drive and walk so compounded the problem.  For two months now it has been hard to walk, not helped by my impatience to take Bonnie out so that as soon it gets better I overdo it again.
I am having Laser and Ultrasound and Tens daily. It’s a sort of DIY system in the clinic where you clean the equipment and get your own ice-packs thus freeing up the staff to spend more time chatting with each other at reception

Art at Last
My friend Christine and I went to an art class in Granollers this week. It is amazing and is exactly what I have been looking for since I arrived but before I could only find classes for children.
We practised mixing colours in acryic paints which was like a meditation and totally absorbing

 I’ve always ended up before with mud brown and now I know why.
For days afterwards we were ‘seeing’ colours all around us. Look at this street corner in Granollers

Did you know that Malva is the Spanish word for Mauve?   And the Malvinas?

Now to get to the biggest theme of the week. The car.
In brief (which is difficult to do when something is obsessively churning around in your head) I bought a left hand drive Spanish registered car when I was in the UK. We drove home in it which meant that I could rest my ******* ankle.  It is a lovely car but when we went to Sabadell to register ourselves as the new owners, we couldn’t. We don’t have the correct paperwork from the UK dealers.
This is Spain. You need the correct papers and lots of them.  It is all a terrible muddle and errhhhh!
It has driven me crazy these past two weeks.  Very luckily we were able to get it through the ITV which is nothing to do with television but is the Spanish equivalent of the MOT.   You don’t need  to be the owner at the test.  The car is insured but that is it –  we don’t legally own it, there are several outstanding debts on it, we are not able to pay the road tax as we are not the owners…….. and the phone calls to the dealers are no fun.  I’m sure there will be a follow up to this saga….

That’s it for now then. If you are interested in seeing lovely photos of our town then can I invite you to take a look at the Facebook page Aboutgranollers?   I am building up a collection of images about what was called in the Guardian, this nondescript Catalan town.
And a last picture from today’s walk/limp in Montnegre. These are the trees that give us cork – they look so naked and unprotected after their outer bark has been taken. Think of them when you next open a bottle of wine.  But meanwhile, Salut and have a happy weekend wherever you are.

It’s Friday – time for Virtual Vermut!

It is Friday evening and I am wondering how to catch up with all that has happened in the last three weeks, for it has been a strange and busy time. Apart from the potato update I think I left you floating in paradise, at Sant Nicolau, in mid April.
Since then the weather has changed – several times – and I have flown to Scotland and back and both Bonnie and I have been ill. There have been festivals – Sant Jordi and May Day and now it is Ascencio.
What about a Vermut while I tell you some stories?

I flew to Glasgow for a Scottish wedding and had a wonderful time seeing family, at last having something to celebrate after the last sad year since my brother died.
I love Glasgow Central station

 Bonnie stayed here in Granollers and it was lovely to return from my trip and have her meet me at the station. But I noticed almost immediately there was something wrong with her. She was too hot, a bit subdued, off her food.  The week before she had been attacked by several ticks. Probably picked up after we walked the same path as some sheep – or it could have been the goats – who knows – they are hard to avoid here

 I took her to the vet and was shocked to find her blood tests showed extremely low platelets and aenemia.  Erlichiosis – a tick borne parasitic infection of the blood.
She had to stay in hospital overnight – she was too tired and weak to protest. Very scary but so good to have the wonderful Lauro Vets so close to home. It is 24 hour with an animal hospital and vets who speak English!  I know I can communicate in Catalan but in an emergency – it was so good.

 The antibiotics started to work very quickly and late the next day she was able to come home

 I decided to change her onto a raw meat diet and since then have been scouring the shops for cheap meaty chunks that she can gnaw through like a wolf. And liver and tripe and other strange things.

I had come home to sunshine in Granollers and the day that Bonnie went to hospital was Sant Jordi – the Catalan patron saint of lovers. The streets were filled with stalls selling books

 or roses – here’s my lovely friend Azucena helping out on a stall.

Normally I love this festival but this one was rather over shadowed for me.
I just wanted Bonnie home and safe.
Somehow living here in a strange land makes us even more close- she is always there for me

 Friends arrived from France, seeking sunshine and warmth.  No sooner had they settled in than the skies darkened and the rain started.  And I came down with flu. Fever and chills and body pains and weakness. Bonnie and I stayed at home together, resting and recovering.
Finally we all felt strong enough to go to the beach

 It was cold and windy but the Ona restaurant at Premia del Mar never lets you down. Lovely food and they are always so welcoming to dogs.  We sat inside of course!  Then had a refreshing walk.

Suddenly it was May 1st

 here mainly celebrated as the day of the workers but for me always a pagan celebration of spring.
But it was still raining!

Finally the weather changed in time for our boat trip to watch seabirds. We went from Badalona on the Quetx they have bought and restored and now use for sailing lessons

 We didn’t see too many birds, not compared to trips on the Scillonian, but it was peaceful to be out there on the sea on a calm and sunny day.
And now it is almost time for my birthday – it looks like it will be raining again from the forecast but I got used to that when I was young – Scottish bulls aren’t bothered by a bit of weather!