I arrived at the homestead before Josie, and entered the house. Prince, who usually will race to the door to greet me, lay by the fireplace, his head down, looking over at me.
I moved over to him, to try to get him to rise, but he just lay there. His left leg was crooked, positioned toward his chest. I tried to stroke his fur to get him to stand up, but he just moved his body so that I could pat his belly and looked away. I had trouble getting him to focus.
Concerned, I went to his water bowl, filled it with fresh water and moved it next to him. Then I filled up his food bowl. His moved back to his side to take a few sips, but that was it.
I sat down next to him, suddenly feeling terribly guilty. Prince has been so neglected this past year. Our focus has been on the kids, not on giving him love, or walking him every night. I started to cry, talking to him comfortingly, telling him how much I loved him, trying to get him to look me in the eyes.
I called Josie, concerned. She suggested that I give him some ham from the fridge. I fed him one piece, which did get his attention. He sat up to get a second piece, and walked to get it out of my hand. He seemed much more alert, and I was able to get him to walk to the desk.
After that, I was able to get him to go for a walk down the street. I walked out of the house barefoot, not caring whether I had my sandals on or not; just grateful that Prince was walking. The rocks on the dirt road bit into the soles of my feet, which seemed strangely fitting.
He seemed fine on the way down, walking with great stride and purpose, dragging me, as he so often had done in the old days.
But he was really sluggish on the way back. He would meander and keep his nose down. At one point, we passed by the garage of an old collie bitch that he always would go crazy for. She was no longer there. He poked around, confused. I got him to focus and we started back home. Slowly.
I don't know. It reminds me of my grandmother, how she started to be, once Mom and Dad were mostly in Plymouth and all of us kids had our own lives. Is Prince really ill, or just feeling neglected? Or just getting old? In any event, I am determined to walk the old guy more. He's been a great dog.
On other note, Josie and I waxed philosophical for some time tonight. My favorite part came at the end of our meandering conversation. "What is it that we're looking for when we die? What do we all want, really?" Someone to be laying there next to us, of course. Which is why neither of us seem very good at just playing the field. We're both concerned about making sure that space is filled when our number gets called.