Eight years ago I adopted a middle-aged English setter from the local pound. They found him covered in ticks and nearly starved to death, still with his hunter’s orange collar on. They figured he probably wasn’t working as a hunting dog, so he was left in the field. I adopted him and when he came home, he didn’t know what stairs were and probably had never been in a house. It didn’t take long to figure out the house had the good food and the cushy beds.
When the other dogs would sometimes get loose and run in the woods across the road, Pat would never go far. He’d run with them until it got hard to see the house through the trees and turn around and come home. He never wanted the house out of his sight.
He’s had spondylosis, spinal arthritis, for a few years, and the last few months I’ve I’ve had to help him up sometimes. And he’s had a sort of progressive dementia, which makes him walk into corners and tight spots and not be able to get out. He was still eating well, still exploring the yard, but getting weaker. Last night I got home from work and found him collapsed on the floor in a pile of his own waste, and no longer able to stand once I helped him up. It’s time, but oh, how I wish it wasn’t.
Goodbye, Pat. You’ve been a very good dog.