I met Prince when he was six weeks old and I was six years old. I grew up as he grew old and sixteen years after meeting, we parted.
Daddy brought Prince home much to the surprise of my mother, sister and me.He said he found the fluffy, black puppy in the road, but we all knew a fellow at his work had a dog who had just had a litter, and that Daddy couldn’t resist. Mum wasn’t too thrilled when she saw the oversized paws that foretold the magnificent 90 pound Water Shepard prince grew to be. With his long, wavy fur, feathered tail that gently curled up, long snout and short, silky ears, Prince looked every bit as regal as his name.
And, as his breed belied, Prince was a terrific swimmer who loved to paddle from the shore of the fishing lake all the way to our little fishing boat. We’d haul him, soaking wet of course (which added seemingly a million pounds) into the boat where he would share his wetness with us by shaking, almost tippling the tiny boat.
Prince was a lover. He loved children, who would stroke his ears and ride on his back. He loved to be petted, and petted, and if you stopped, his long bear-like claws would reach out to you, leaving welts on the skin. So it was important not to stop petting Prince!
But most of all, I think Prince loved our cat, Tiger – his true brother in arms. It’s impossible to write about Prince without mentioning Tiger, and vice-versa. We met Tiger the same week we met Prince, and Tiger was also six weeks old. They grew up as brothers, each mimicking the other. Prince took cat baths and Tiger went swimming. I will honor Tiger with his own memorial, but he was a fellow traveler with Prince and they both died within a short time of each other.
The morning of the day Prince died, I came downstairs to find him lying on the landing. Now twenty-two, I had to leave for work and told my Grandma “Prince is going to die today” and she said “Yes, I know”. When I came home that evening Prince had not moved all day and we called a lovely animal control man named Felix-I will never forget his kindness as he lifted Prince into the back of my vehicle.
At the vet, one look at Prince‘s once pink, now white gums confirmed his lungs were failing (lack of oxygen) and that night, Prince fell asleep, and is still awake in my memories and heart.