536 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 4 JULY 2020
who were neighbours and paid them enough to keep them through their
natural lives, just like Jane would have done.
If he had it to do over again, he would have kept them. They were a nuisance,
but he came to realize what they meant to Priscilla. On top of Jane’s
death, their absence devastated her. She moped and had little interest in
anything. He knew what the animals and birds meant to Jane, but he didn’t
anticipate how their absence would affect Priscilla until it was too late.
Later, the young family next door agreed to let him and Priscilla babysit
their farm on a regular basis. Priscilla would lunge and hover for hours,
herding everything she could find. The image was so poignant that he could
see Jane in a flowered dress that fell well below her gum boots and an old
coat sweater, dancing through the yard playing counterpoint with Priscilla
while they pretended that the task of herding was the most important in the
When he realized what not having the animals did to Priscilla, he tried to
fill in. On their babysitting tours, Priscilla did her best to hide her disdain at
his pathetic efforts, but it was clearly better than nothing. He proved more
successful at filling in for the daily walks he and Jane had taken for several
years with Priscilla. Their usual path ran along the stream that divided their
small acreage and then through the woods to the fields beyond. It was a long
time before he could bring himself to resume those walks. It was on Jane’s
last walk that she died. They were coming back through the woods, and she
paused to rest on a log. She had started the practice of resting that way a
month before, but this time she slipped down off the log and laid out flat on
the trail. They said later that she had a massive heart attack and died almost
Priscilla was the first to realize that something very wrong was happening.
She went to Jane and carefully sniffed around her face. He followed
her, patting her head and looking closely at Jane. She had lost colour in her
face, and her breathing was rapid and shallow. He did not realize immediately
how serious it was, but Priscilla did. She laid down with her head at
Jane’s shoulders and pressed herself tight against her body. Jane was able
to raise her hand to pat Priscilla, and Priscilla responded by reaching gently
to lick Jane’s face. As Jane’s hand fell, Priscilla licked it and then, in a low
voice, howled one truly mournful howl.
After the funeral, which Priscilla attended, she did not lie on the grave.
He was not sure if dogs do that or if it was just another urban legend. But
Priscilla did go to the log where Jane had died and stayed beside it for several
days and nights. Despite repeated efforts, he was only able to lure her
away when, on a sudden impulse, he walked along the trail on the same