I apologize if I have already posted this here. I did a search but it didn't come up. Anyway..a while ago I had to put my little buddy to sleep. He was a good little dog, just too old and too sick to go on. So I took him to the woods he loved and I put him to sleep. Remington never felt anything, but it affected me more than I ever thought it would. I mean it was tough. I mourned like I had lost one of the family. I guess he was really. So, one night when it was really bothering me, I got up and wrote this story. It helped some and I hope you all like it. Leep: The Old Man and the Hound: Jack drove his old jeep down the dirt road carefully. Since no one lived along this road anymore but old Tom, the highway department seldom serviced it. He guessed it didn’t really matter much as old Tom didn’t drive much anymore..Perhaps once a month when his retirement check came in. Then he would come into town driving that old rickety truck and cash his check, buy some groceries and collect his mail. He used to get his mail down the lane at the mailbox, but since he was the only one living up the old road anymore, the town decided he would have to come into the post office to collect his mail. Jack would always check it himself when he made the trip out. He’d pull into the yard and scatter the few chickens pecking along the driveway and the old man’s hound would walk slowly off the porch and bay at him. When Jack got out of the truck and walked up to the porch old Sam would sniff at his hand and then satisfied would wag his tail and walk stiffly back onto the porch and sit down by the old rocker. “How do, Tom.” Tom would always answer the same way, “Why Jack, you didn’t have to come way out here just to check on me. I’m just fine.” “Ah, I like getting away from town for awhile. You got any of that cider left?” “You just set down and I’ll bring us a cup out.” Jack looked around and felt bad at how the old place was slowly falling apart. Tom did his best, but he wasn’t in much better shape than his old dog. Tom would come out onto the porch, the old screen door bouncing on its hinges a little as it banged shut. He’d hand a cup of sweet cider to Jack and sit down beside him, sniffing the cup a little before taking a long drink. “Tom, you make the best cider I ever had.” Tom nodded a little and said, “Well it will probably be the last year for it, Jack. The old tree up there hasn’t had a good crop of apples for the last year or so. I guess it’s getting old and worn out like me and old Sam here.” Upon hearing his name, the old dog wagged his tail and looked up at his master. “Tom, why don’t you sell this old place and move in with your boy or your daughter Linda?” “Ah, Tom snorted, what in hell would I do in California; I been here my whole life.” “And, they don’t allow dogs in either of their homes. Be damned if I’m gonna ‘leave old Sam here for anyone.” “Him and me are all we got left.” The kids have been gone for over twenty years and Dorothy has been gone for almost ten now. “I sure miss her Jack;… we were married for over thirty years.” Jack said, “Well Tom, you think on it some. I gotta get back into town. I have the night shift. It isn’t much of a town, but I reckon even it needs a police force.” “I’ll be back out in a couple days.” “How you fixed for wood, it’s been getting pretty frosty the last few nights.” “Why Jack, you cut enough wood last summer to keep me in wood for two winters.” “Me and old Sam here will be just fine.” After a few minutes of silence Tom said, “Jack, you remember all those times I took you hunting at night.” Jack smiled and said, “I reckon I do Tom, those fox and coon hunts are a part of my memory I will never forget. We sure had some good times.” Tom looked fondly down at Sam and said, “Now all old Sam and I can do is set on the porch in the sun and remember.” He wiped his hand over his eyes and coughed to hide his emotion. Jack looked across the field and pretended not to notice. “Old Sam is getting old and life is kinda hard on him now. I don’t know what I’ll do when he goes.” “Don’t you worry about that Tom, he’s got a couple good years in him and if worse comes to worse, why you can come into town and live with me. I’d be honored to have you.” “Ah, get on with you, you better get back down that road and get to work. “I’ll see you next time out.” Jack tipped his cup and finished off his cider, handed the cup over to Tom and shook his hand. “You take care of yourself and I’ll see you in a day or so.” Tom said suddenly, “Why don’t you marry that little girl that works in your office.” “Any fool can see how you feel about her.” Jacks jaw dropped and he answered, “well damnation, isn’t anything a secret around you? Heck, Susie would probably laugh me out of the office.” He walked to his truck, started it and scattered some more chickens as he drove down the road. The nights were getting colder and Sam was getting worse. Once or twice Tom had gotten up the next morning and he saw that Sam hadn’t made it to the door in time. Tom said softly, “Ah Sam.” Sam looked up at Tom with shame on his face. He had gone to the bed and whimpered a little to let Tom know he had to go outside, but old Tom hadn’t heard him. Tom reached down and patted Sam’s side and said softly, “It’s ok old friend, Hell sometimes I have trouble getting to the bathroom in time myself.” Sam whined softly and leaned against Tom’s leg, tail wagging. Old Sam had aches and pains now and his backend didn’t work right sometimes. He had arthritis almost as bad as Tom did. It troubled the old dog some because he didn’t know what was wrong, only that just about everything he did anymore hurt him somewhere. Tom had trouble with his hands. They were twisted and knurled some because of age. Seemed he hurt just about everywhere too. About a week ago he had moved the single mattress down from one of the bedrooms upstairs and put it beside his bed. Sam seemed to like it there more than his old bed in front of the stove. Course, Tom had to be careful when he got up in the night to stoke the stove or make one of his trips to the bathroom. A couple times he had almost stepped/fell over Sam sleeping beside the bed. Tom would lay awake at night listening to the crackling of the fire, and the sounds Sam made sleeping. From some of the noises he made, you’d think he was back running down game up in the mountains. Tom would just grin a little and lie back with a sigh. “Damn”, he thought to himself, “I miss my wife. I miss the kids too, but they have their own lives, and I don’t blame them much for not keeping in touch more than they do.” “They do call, though.” “ I hate to talk on that damn phone.” The other day he had stepped out of bed and the next thing he knew he woke up lying beside Sam on the mattress. Sam was curled up tight against him, whining softly, licking his face. He had been having pains in his chest and in his arm but true to form, paid it little mind. Hell, old and beat up as he was, it was a wonder he didn’t have a lot more. He never did mention any of this to Jack. And sure as the sun set each night, he never said a word to the kids. If he did, he knew they would come out and get him and the next thing you know he’d be in some damn home somewhere, surrounded by strangers, getting poked and prodded. By the Lord Harry, that would never happen to him, he vowed. The morning sun beamed bright through the window and both Tom and Sam got up together. Tom walked Sam to the door and onto the porch. The old dog made his way down the front steps and around the side of the house. He came back a few minutes later and creaked his way back up on the porch and curled up beside Tom who was back in his rocker. Tom liked sitting there in the early morning. Why, you never could tell what you might see. Usually a deer or two. Always a couple squirrels. And the birds, why there must have been a dozen or more different kinds that made the old farm their home. Tom looked fondly down at Sam and said, “I reckon it’s too late for that bear to show up anymore this year.” The old bear that denned every year up on the hill behind the barn showed up a few times every year. Sam would get insulted when he would stand on the porch and bay at the old bear. He would either simply ignore Sam or he might stand on his hind legs a second to get a better look at that noisy thing. Neither one of them could see worth a darn anymore. Tom would shush Sam when the bear would show up. He kinda liked seeing him each year. Sometimes Tom would wake up on the porch and couldn’t remember where he was for a second or two. A couple times he and Sam were both pretty darn cold cause Tom fell asleep pretty close to dark. Tom would stand carefully and stretch and call Sam inside. “I reckon we both could use a bite to eat, eh Sam?” Inside though Tom was worried, more worried than he might let on. One night, as he lay awake in his bed, Sam whimpering beside him, he knew that it probably wouldn’t be much longer for either one of them. The next morning dawned bright and warm. Sure looked like Indian summer was here. As Tom sat on the porch, steaming cup of coffee in his hand, he heard the sound of a vehicle coming up the road. His heart gladdened at the sight of Jack pulling into the driveway. He turned off the engine and walked up onto the porch. “Howdy Tom, how are you and old Sam getting along?” Tom grinned a little and answered, “Tolerable, Jack, just tolerable. How about a cup of coffee?” Jack said, “you just sit tight, I outa’ know where the cups are by now.” Jack came back onto the porch and sat down in the old straight backed chair that sat against the porch rail. “Sure is a pretty morning, isn’t it Tom?” Tom smiled and said, “It surely is Jack, prettiest one so far this fall.” Jack said, “I’m sure sorry about taking so long to get back out here Tom.” “I’ve been following your advice and spending some time with Suze.” Tom smiled wide and said, “Well now, it’s about time.” “I asked her to marry me Tom and she said yes. It might be awhile yet because we are both saving for a down payment on a little place somewhere out here in the country.” Tom stood carefully and leaned over and shook Jacks’ hand. “Well that’s fine news, just fine Jack, best of luck to the both of you.” They sat and talked for a couple hours. Tom even went inside and fried them a couple fresh eggs and bacon. Tom sat over another cup of coffee while Jack washed and dried the few dishes they had used during breakfast. “Well Tom, I better get back into town. I promised Suze I’d be over to her place for dinner and I sure don’t want to be late. I’ll be out in a couple days for sure this time.” Tom walked out onto the porch and reached to shake Jack’s hand. He couldn’t hide the pain he felt in his chest. Jack said, “You ok Tom?” Tom grinned and said, Hells fire Jack; you get to be my age, you find out you have all kinds of aches and pains. I’m fine, now don’t you worry.” “I have any trouble I’ll get that damn contraption hanging on the wall in there and give you a call. Reassured, Jack walked briskly down off the porch, patting Sam on the back as he walked down to his truck. As he started the truck, he looked back up on the porch, worry in his eyes. He sure loved that old man, and the dog too. His Dad had left when he was still a little fella and Tom was the only father he had ever known. He had played with Tom’s son and stayed overnight more than once growing up. His wife Dorothy had always treated him like one of her own kids too. With another wave, Jack drove down the lane and turned onto the county road leading into town. Late that night Sam took a turn for the worse…Tom woke up to hear him whimpering somewhere on the floor.. For some reason, Sam had decided he needed to get to the door and collapsed halfway across the kitchen floor. He was trying to drag himself back to Tom, but he could see it hurt him too much. Tom jumped out of bed and half ran, half fell over to Sam’s side. He curled up on the floor beside old Sam and held him close, hot tears running down his face. He crooned to Sam, holding him tight.