Two days home from Deep River, though in the darkroom all day processing film from the trip, I noticed my old dog Fella was not well. He'd been ageing gradually for some years and I hadn't expected him to still be alive when I returned from Canberra.
He reminded me a lot of Dad during his last months over the year since we'd been back together - sleeping a lot, occasionally laid low for a day or two exhausted by life, a little senile. But he was still comfortable and a huge presence.
The third day back Fella was haggard and hunched, and increasingly restless and uncomfortable throughout the day. From experience I knew the only vets in town would be little help and vets were a last resort with Fella.
(He ran under a 4WD when we first came to Esperance 10 years ago and wasn't expected to survive but did. The experience taught him little about roads but left him with a lifelong fear and loathing of vets. A visit to them them required sedation and muzzling and physical restraint once we got there. It was so traumatic for both of us that it was, as mentioned, a last resort.)
So I kept working in the darkroom all day to distract my concerns. By evening Fella was in pain. We would have to see the vet when they opened next day. It was a difficult night, and in the morning vets were reluctant to come out here so the trip to town and appointment were organised. We were at the vet just before lunch and Fella died close to 2.30 that afternoon. A great shock.
He was my constant companion from 6 weeks of age, a great friend. We miss him too much.