He declined very swiftly, which is usually a blessing with dogs--Monday he was stiff, as he usually was, and by Wednesday he couldn't stand up without help. His back had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer feel his hind legs, and then it was a matter of keeping him comfortable until Kevin got home from traveling and could be with him at the end.
He was twelve years old and a giant for a border, well outside breed standard, so this was pretty much a ripe old age.
It is the nature of herding dogs to divide the world into People and Sheep. Kevin was People. I was...well...the most senior of the Sheep. (I suspect Brandon was silently judging Kevin for carrying on with a Sheep, but such is the devotion of dogs that he allowed this baffling choice to go on.) I was mostly allowed to go about my business as long as Kevin was home, but when Kevin went on a trip, Brandon had to use his best judgment and felt that I needed to stick to a strict schedule and be in the bedroom by 9 pm at the latest. Deviation would be met with long, disappointed looks, and then he would shove his nose under my elbow and flip it up while I was trying to work and walk very close behind my knees if I got up to use the bathroom.
We miss him very badly. I wouldn't even mind being herded again.
Kevin had him since he was a tiny fuzzy puppy, so this is hardest for him. We are the sort of people who measure out our lives in pets, so we are as used to this as it's possible to be. It doesn't get easier, but it does get familiar, so there's that, at least.
May he herd all the things in heaven.