In the course of yesterday it became more and more obvious that Ben the Trailhound was limping. Leaped one five-barred gate too many, we reckoned, but then became more concerned as it seemed to be getting worse not better. We had a date in the Vinegar Works, but we went off with some confidence since we had left the Northern Gentleman in charge, with Ben booked for a vet appointment in the middle of the day. We came back to find him (Ben, that is) swaying in the breeze, but with all four feet firmly on the ground, much to our relief. He’d had an anaesthetic (hence the spaceyness) in order to have an x-ray in case he had fractured something — which I am thankful to say, he hadn’t. But being totally out allowed the vet to get a proper look at his paw, and it turned out he had an infected claw. Agonizing, as anyone who has had an under-nail infection will know, but yields to antibiotics in a trice. The initial shot has clearly made a vast difference to his general well-being, so that’s OK. But the whole saga prompts a further thought. His No. 2 Boss, the Man from Maryport, was supposed to be coming back today (actually, I doubt if he is, since he is currently in a plane from Cape Town to Heathrow, where, when he finally touches down, he will find that all internal flights have been cancelled because of a plane which has been landed off-runway). But the point I am making is that it is just before an Official Handover. My extensive and peculiar experience of quadrupeds who are permanent residents has led me to the conclusion that if they are going to throw an abscess, an infected toenail, lose a fight, get involved in a car accident, etc. etc. etc., they will, if at all possible, do it on the Sunday of a public holiday, and by the same token, if they are guests, they will do something dead embarrassing, suggesting that you haven’t looked after them properly, immediately before the Official Handover. The question is, how do they know? Are they cleverer than we think?