The next visit to the nursing home brought great joy to both Meg and Casper. They were greeted by the sound of the piano and someone gently strumming a guitar. The place felt warm and welcoming. Mrs. Cleaves had made some more progress and her lopsided smile melted the world away. Casper went straight to her, gently nudging his head into her waiting hands. Both pairs of eyes sparkled.
“Are you glad to see the dog?” Her attendant asked.
“Not…Dawg” she muttered, “Cas Purr!”
Casper barked his delight at hearing her say his voice. It gave him such joy. The pair had a strong loving connection. Mr. Hastings stopped playing long enough to pet his friend. So many gentle hands/ The room seemed to be bursting with energy and love. Casper had been coming to visit the folks here for many years. He knew them all by sight and smell. Each one seemed touched by the change in mood since Mrs. Cleaves had first spoken. Out of the corner of his eye, Casper spied Radar at the edge of the room. It had been Radar’s kiss that had worked the change. Casper hoped that Radar would come home with him today. He had so many questions to ask.
After making his rounds Casper was exhausted. He was achy and ready to return to his own cozy spot before the fireplace at home. His eyes were heavy when he got in the car. It wasn’t long before he was asleep. His day had been a good one. Dreams were peaceful. In his mind he could hear the faint sound of the radio as his Meg drove. There was a slight tightness in his chest and he was feeling very tired. When they got home he had some trouble waking to get out of the car. He walked slowly too the house and allowed him self to be scooted out of the kitchen. His hearth was cold. No fire there for now. He made his bed on the carpet none the less and fell back into a deep sleep.
Meg noticed that the old dog didn’t budge when she worked around him to build the fire. He looked at her with heavy eyes. He was tired today. She tried to coax him to have his supper, but he couldn’t seem to get to his feet. That was hen she knew something was wrong. She immediately called her vet, and pleaded that he make a house call. She would not be able to move the dog by herself. Gentle hands ~ warm fire ~ soft voices.
“Congestive Heart failure” were the words he heard.
Meg was crying. She wrapped her body around his and held him. He licked her face. He comforted her. She was sad. Alastair was hovering nearby and Spook sat atop the book shelf. He could feel them all there, but he was so very tired. He opened his eyes and saw, Radar sitting beside the backdoor. He knew what was coming.
“I love you, Casper….I’ll take it from here.” He heard the soft words from his Meg. He felt the tears falling on his fur. He lifted his head and looked around then sighed as he lowered it back down. “You’ve done a great job…I’ll take it from here.”
He heard voices. So many voices calling his name. There was light and warmth and no pain. Radar sat beside him on a dusty road. The voices were calling him.
“Come on Casper…..”
“Just a little further…”
” So this is why you came?” Casper turned to Radar
“Only partially.” Radar looked at his friend in the eyes, “You see we are switching jobs, you and I.”
“What do you mean?” Casper looked down the road and saw a bridge.
“You will rest here awhile and then you will look after those friends of yours…you will walk them home.” Radar explained.
“What will you do?” Casper asked.
“I am about to become a pup again ….” Radar started to glow,” I want to grow up to be just like you were. You left some pretty big paw prints in some hearts….but, I’ll take it from here.”
Casper smiled as he watched Radar disappear. He headed toward the bridge and the voices that called him home.
“You do that, Radar….and I’ll take it from here too!”