Last Monday, a week ago, on our walk, I asked him to sit on that stone bench, while I took a photo of him; I paid him with a piece of a cookie. To be sure of his co-operation, you always had to bring a cookie. Now that I look at the picture, I see how tired he was. He was a little unwilling to walk, but it was cold (and I knew how much he hated the cold) and I had recently discovered that one of his paws was a bit sore (it had happened before, and didn’t worry me, I started the familiar treatment), so I carried him a lot. There wasn’t anything particularly alarming about it. Neither was I particularly alarmed by his lack of appetite; it was “normal” for him. We came home, and he went to sleep, and I looked at him and felt strangely heart-broken (I even wrote that I did), because I was again made aware he was an old dog.

But that was alright, as long as he was with me; I could carry him. I had bought a new bag for him to sit in, whenever he wanted to. Increasingly over the past two winters he found the climate unpleasant, and his paws were very sensitive to walking on cold and wet surfaces. I was in the process of devising a prototype for a dog shoe I’d try to make for him. We were going to make it through the winter.

Or so I thought. He was “just” an old dog, he could have had two months or two years left of his life; on Monday last week, there was no way of knowing, not for me. I should have known, but didn’t.

And then, the rapid deterioration.

This evening, five days will have passed without him. To be home is intolerable. I walk, and I walk, and I walk; my legs and feet are sore. I walk, and when I walk towards home there are short moments when I think he’ll be there; he’ll be there, and we’ll go out together. As if by some kind of magic he could return. As if I could will him back. If I want it enough — he’ll be there. And he isn’t.

I don’t know what to do.