When she first met him, he was already a grand old man who tolerated her constant need to play, only occasionally grumbling at her bouncing and play bowing.
That first summer, she was so young her crate where she slept was still in the bedroom. The night of the thunderstorm, he crawled inside the cage trying to escape the noise, while she, bemused, came and checked on him and then wandered away unperturbed to sleep elsewhere.
Now deaf and blind, he is oblivious to the rumbling and flashes of our distant summer storms and it is she who has learnt to be anxious. But she still checks on him. She, now a grown-up elegant lady, has learnt not to bounce and tease him. She follows him as he shuffles round the lawn on his arthriticky hips, bumping into apple tree trunks he can no longer see, stumpy bald tail wagging sixteen to the dozen as he finds some new exciting smell.
She disappears down to the cottage for hours, lying a respectful few paces away from him as he sleeps gently snoring and farting, on the cool of the kitchen tiles. Then she's back, charging up the garden, just to let us know, he's awake and on the move - albeit slowly and several minutes behind her as he weaves his slightly erratic path up to the house from the cottage.
This morning she dashes down to the cottage ahead of me, to say "good morning". But he's gone, off before dawn, tucked down in the back of the car for the long, hot journey home.
I think Vita that this summer is the last time.
Guccio and Vita in previous years