Leo and I were walking on the cliff overlooking the sea, enjoying the brilliant sun and lovely breeze refreshing the hot air, but I kept thinking back to the previous afternoon while we were waiting for his vet to see him.  Ours was a routine visit, nothing to worry about, so I was spending the time looking at the other animals in the waiting room with their people.

The young man who walked in carrying his motionless dog sat next to us. He asked if Leo was friendly because his dog was very old.  Yes, I could see the dog’s white face and the large tumors protruding from both sides.

“Leo’s very friendly and very tolerant,” I said, and the man put his dog down next to us.  Leo immediately sat down, then lay down with his head on the floor.  He couldn’t get down any further if he tried.  I knew he was showing not submission this time, but reverence for the old sick dog.

The old dog sniffed Leo’s face and front paws, licked his nose, checked out his forehead.  Leo stayed quiet, calm, perfectly still, accepting the dog’s overtures. The man kissed his dog’s head, said, “You be good now, okay?”  And then they were called in to see the doctor.  They called for ‘Honey.’  The old dog was Honey.  Sweet.

Twenty minutes later the man came out of the back room, no dog, just his dog’s red leash in his hand. He was wearing sunglasses and I could tell he’d been crying.  Leo sat up. I sat straighter.  That’s when I realized that Leo was Honey’s last dog experience.  How fortunate for Honey to be with Leo those last minutes.

I kissed Leo and thanked him for being such a caring, loving dog.  He must have known the dog was dying, the tumors too big, too far gone.  Not me. I didn’t get it until the man came out without Honey.  I wept for Honey and the now dog-less man.

Oh Leo, you are a smart, spiritual being.  What a gift you are!