After I left Charlie a few days ago, the idea occurred to me that perhaps he had been saying goodbye. Not liking this thought, I pushed it aside, telling myself that his calling to me as I walked away was just part of a new-found friendliness.
When I saw there was a voicemail from his owner today, I knew immediately what had happened. I returned the call, and learned that indeed Charlie had passed away on Sunday morning. When I told the owner I thought Charlie had said goodbye to me the other day, she said she had felt the same thing the day before he died. I congratulated her on giving him such a nice long peaceful retirement.
I was glad that it had been easier for him to walk in his last few weeks and months. A man who was there the other day observed that when Charlie's feet were overgrown, he used to just mope in his shed but that lately he was usually out and about, pottering around his clearing in the woods with the goats and rabbits.
Forty years old - glossy-coated, well-fed, and as agile as one of his goat friends until his very last day.
A clear image remains in my mind of Charlie looking after me as I left last week - a calm, kind, cheerful, reaching-out look. I feel his gaze following me still, like a blessing. I count it as a great gift.