My Prince

A bordercollie3

If you ask me how I feel about dogs, I’ll tell you a lie so familiar that it almost seems like the truth.

It was fifty years ago but still…

Today, in a green space at the edge of town, a spaniel was searching, her long coat and comedic ears flopping and dancing as she nosed in the grass.

Briefly, inquisitively, she turned my way but I didn’t retain her interest.

Unguarded in this verdant place, I allowed the missed beat, the quickening within me. My weakness unwittingly exposed itself to me.

With an indulgent grin, the dog’s companion explained that she’d lost her ball. I gave a friendly reply and walked away just as the dog was retrieving her circular prey. I didn’t glance back.

The image of man and dog stayed with me. Soon they would wend their way home; his heart eased by this love; hers bouncing as she lolloped, silently reciprocating.

I pictured that smile full of humour and pride, like a bridegroom parading his bride.

It was fifty years ago, but still I think of him, a different kind of dog than the one I saw today.

I remember the play-fights, the gentle bites that never drew blood, how he was always waiting when I came home from school, his lithe body that nipped around me panting with excitement, his tail wagging. His joyfulness. His youthful beauty.

And all over again I am staring out of my parent’s bedroom window, a tear-streaked face pressed against the pane as they bundle him into a van, taking him away forever.

It was fifty years ago and still I hear the sound of the rear doors slam.

Nobody told him it was all over. I had held him and hugged him, but in my denial I hadn’t said goodbye to Prinny,
my Prinny
my Prince.

If you ask me how I feel about dogs, I’ll tell you I don’t like them. I’ll turn away.

I won’t meet your eye.

© Jane Paterson Basil

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12 thoughts on “My Prince

    1. He was a good dog – never any trouble around sheep – but he teamed up with my mum’s friend’s dog, and they went on a spree. If you’d asked me even a year ago, I would have told you it was a mistake and it couldn’t have been him, but the evidence was damning and it’s about time I faced facts.
      I knew they were coming for him, so I pulled a sickie to get out of school. Mum said they’d be coming in the afternoon, so at lunchtime I was going to sneak away with him, and hide. I was only ten years old, and didn’t realize it wouldn’t have worked.
      The van turned up in the morning instead. I could do no more than helplessly watch from the bedroom, blaming myself, and feeling that I had failed him.
      I have occasionally been asked what was the worst thing that happened in my childhood. I describe a petty upset over a Guy Fawkes night.
      Since then I have avoided getting close to any dog. I was too afraid of being hurt again, but I could never have loved another dog like I loved him

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it has resulted in one excellent story, Jane. This is usually the fodder for our stories–making something positive out of pain and loss. Your skill was reflected in your opening and closing. That’s what makes this more than a sad anecdote.

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        1. Thank you Judy. I experience a deep joy when I feel something I’ve written has really worked -I’m sure you can empathize with that – and I feel that this one is a tribute that Prinny (I know, a stupid nickname, but it just happened) would be proud of.

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  1. Every time we’ve lost a critter I’ve sworn that same thing, that i could never love another dog/cat the way i did the one we lost. I’ve been wrong every time. There was also a time I said I could never love a child that wasn’t mine. I was wrong that time, too. Now I can’t remember which of my kids is the adopted one! 😀

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  2. I am so moved by this story. I have loved dogs and lost them, but I have always fallen in love with another one. Now with two aging, fourteen year old dogs, I know I will be facing this again. It is never easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This brought tears to my eyes…. allow yourself to love dogs again…. let them in. Each one will only expand your heart. Rescue a homeless dog, give him the love he deserves. I myself have 3… and have buried five… three dogs one pup one cat…

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    1. It’s too late – I wouldn’t be allowed a dog where I live, and anyway, my life-style doesn’t lend itself to caring for pets.
      I love cats, too. I’ve lived with them for most of my life, although I don’t have any now. The relationship you have with a cat is different than with a dog. When they die, it doesn’t tend to break your heart quite so much – although there’ve been two in my life that left me grieving deeply.

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