“ A DOG NAMED PRINCE”
Twenty five years ago about this time of year—August and hot, I was driving up to the house with my younger son who was 13 at that time. Had picked him up from some event and as we were approaching our house [halfway up the steep hill!,] he shouted: “There’s Bob!” All I saw was a humongous dog that was lumbering up past us. “Stop and let him in!” he said.
I stopped. And my son who was in the back of my Honda Accord reached up front and opened the passenger door and the huge dog jumped in right beside me. He looked like “Kujo” for I had just seen that movie several weeks prior and although I was never afraid of big dogs [we already had a huge collie], I was definitely leary of this one. Worse was that my son told me he had to get out right there and then as he forgot something at the bottom of the hill—and he got out as I sat there with that huge dog sitting beside me. It looked part St. Bernard and part husky and it not only was huge but had those big eyes like cows do.
When I pulled into the driveway, I got out real fast and let the dog out! It was panting and seemed worn out and so I let it rest in the yard and then it went lumbering down the hill. Thought that was the end of that but it was the beginning for I found out that the dog’s name was “Prince” and belonged to Sid and Jo Greenleaf. Sid used to have a restaurant across from the high school I attended—it was just called “Sid’s” and I had never been in there nor did I know him. But oh I would learn to know him as well as his wife, for Prince would come up to my house and then I would have to take him back down the hill to Sid.
Prince was smart for every day when I drove off the hill to go to my school where I taught, there he was waiting for me on the corner. I’d open the passenger door and he would jump in and ride a half a block to my parking place and then get out! After school, if I had to go somewhere, I would see Prince running after my car and I’d have to stop in mid-traffic and let him in and then bring him back to Sid’s house. He even figured out that he could wait in my school parking place and that took a lot of manuevring to get him to move. One day he jumped in the car with the principal at that time and about scared her out of her wits! “Is that your dog?” she said in a terrified voice. And I had to reply “Sort of and sort of not!”
This went on till winter set in: One morning I saw Prince across the street and he had icicles hanging off of his fur. It broke my heart and I let him in where both of my sons became quickly enamored with him as did the collie.
The time had come to ask Sid if we could keep Prince; it wasn’t right on our part but Sid wouldn’t let Prince in the house. And so I did the obvious and both Sid and his wife agreed that we could have Prince. A big dog leash was put outside tied to one of those twisty metal pieces to hold it tight. Did Prince stay on that leash? No! He must have dragged the entire thing out so many times that I lost count. And where was he? At Sid’s house of course—tons of times I would drive round and round the block only to come back to see Prince standing outside waiting to get back into my car which he did. But before he got in, he had been given an ice cream cone by Jo, Sid’s wife and all was well.
I did learn that Prince was part St. Bernarnd and part husky;he weighed 130 pounds and was gigantic. Our collie, Rusty, weighed 125 pounds; the two of them together got along well but it sure was crowded in this house! Whatever was done for Prince, he showed such gratefulness. He was truly a gentle giant of a dog. One day in the following summer he took off as usual and I couldn’t find him anywhere—not at Sid’s or anywhere. My sons scoured the neighborhood as did their father. And I got hysterical. A week passed and no Prince. My friend, Peg, called me and wanted to go antiquing; told her that would be great and that I would pick her up. I did and had to go to the board of education to get my summer check. Got the check, back in the car and Peg and I were headed towards downtown when all of a sudden I saw a dog on the sidewalk that looked just like Prince!
Swerved over to the corner, got out and hollered “Prince!” The dog looked at me and came running towards my car; Peg got out and let the dog get in the backseat and I looked at her. She was bent over in the front seat petrified. “I’m afraid of big dogs!” Looked back at the dog and thought it was Prince—just looked ragged is all. How I ever made it back to near my house with Peg in the floor [with her pocketbook over her head] and the dog in the back is something I will never understand to this day—but I did.
I pulled up right across from Sid’s house. Peg jumped out and so did the dog and what would come running towards me but Prince! Prince had a double that hung around for weeks and everyone thought it was him—but it wasn’t! Later that dog disappeared but I did hear that some woman was downtown near the court house, thought it was Prince [she knew him too] and got a rope from someone and brought that poor dog back over here again! My then- husband told me to take it back downtown but there was no way I was going to be charged by the police with dropping off a dog. Thankfully, the imposter left the area a week later never to be seen again!
When I first had Prince in my car, I found out he was about two years old; we had him here at this house till he was fifteen. He was so loved and so gracious—and the most gentle dog ever next to the collie who had died two years before him. Prince was getting old and we found ourselves hand feeding him and helping him walk while on his leash. He had slept with both of my sons as well as with me for he was just that kind of dog. But by this point, he was waking us up with noises and those noises were his falling down in the hallway. And then the time came when he couldn’t stand up at all and looked up at me with those big pitiful brown eyes and I knew—knew it was time but didn’t want to face it and yet I had to. He had given us unconditional love and we owed it to him to be out of his misery for he had lost weight and the desire to live.
Taking him to the vet involved my then- husband and me [maybe…it’s sort of a blur] and by this time my sons were grown and gone; it was so hard to see him with the vet. And harder to let him go but I owed it to him. He was buried in a pet cemetery in a county near me and yes, he had a headstone that said “Beloved Pet Prince.” I am so glad that my younger son made me stop that hot August day and let him in the car with us for Prince made our lives richer and trust me, he was loved and gave back that love tenfold. To this day I still miss him.
*This was published in the WVGazette when Don Marsh was the editor. And it was cut down due to size –I always write too much. The title of this story was then titled “Powerful.”