Last night, Sweetie did not follow me down the hill to help do the horse chores. When I got back, she was there in the dog house, just lying there.
I stopped, hand on the as yet unlatched gate, focusing on the dark interior of her igloo, my heart racing. Finally I shut the gate, but I still couldn't face the house. Her body was inert.
The cat's metal pan rattled as I opened their new sack and dipped up the food, carefully setting it on the roof of the car so Sweetie with her over 4' jump, could not reach it. Picking up her pail, I headed toward her. She did not answer the calls or whistles. Finally, the littlest summer kitten came out from under the trailer and stopped in her igloo while he waited for the pile of big cats to vacate the bowl area. She roused under the pressure of his body sitting on her chest and came out for her food.
One of my long-gone Irish Setters liked the documentaries that had real bird song. She'd dash behind the tv, nose twitching, to locate the birds making the unique songs. (Yes, she was a good hunter in real life, borrowed constantly by people who owned guns. She'd go out with almost anyone dressed for hunting.)
Since I raised her from a pup, and know nothing about hunting, that is truly amazing. She went with the local doctor once... his wife had a litter mate, the pick, supposedly, although I always preferred the one I kept. She paid $50 for her pup, but wouldn't let it hunt, as she disliked having to cook the birds.
He got an English Setter pup trained to hunt for $600 and brought her out... The first time they went, she ran back to the truck when the first shot was fired... She did not know how to honor another dog's point, dashing in before the men were in position, and my dog showed her only scorn, he reported. She had the better nose, and the whole time he had that dog, he'd come get mine, too, so they'd get some birds. I found that terribly funny, as English Setters are "known" to be good hunters, and the big bench style Irishmen like mine were "known" not to have any birding instincts left... but if she was third generation of my breeding, and I didn't know a thing about birds, so where did her hunting abilities come from? She also was from bench champions... so had both.
Now her granddaughter, my final setter, has cancer, and was operated on when it was first found in her mammary glands, so was pup-less. Thus ends a line I began right out of college with a $35.00 dog. I need to get a pup, but just haven't been able to do it, as she'll see it as a replacement, and be offended.
When my friends come with their dogs, she's fine, unless I pet them or pay undue attention to them, then she wants reassurance that she's still top dog in my affections.
But if people come without dogs, she'll fawn all over them, and ignore me... sure she's free to shower affection on anyone anytime. She's a funny girl. Most of the time, she acts as if she has no clue who owns her. She loves everybody. If someone for some reason doesn't WANT to pet her, she'll passionately keep offering her head for petting, just sure she can win them over.
My nephews learned early on not to sit beside her on the porch steps -- she gives frequent and sloppy wet willies... Blow in her face, and she'll persist until she gets you. Pity tiny children-- they are constantly in reach, and a dog taller than they are is intimidating, no matter how much SHE loves children.
I hate to see her growing old, and see the lumps spreading. Each time she doesn't come along, I feel that dread all over again. It was bad last night.