King lifted his head, then carefully got up from the floor by the fireplace and barked. Jonah could remember a time when the old Labrador would have been positively dancing around the room at the prospect of going for a ride... but then, of course, that was some time ago now. And, really, why he was doing this in the first place.
"Come on, then, old boy," he said heartily, scratching King behind the ears. "Let's have us some fun, eh?" He opened the front door, allowing the dog to pad out carefully onto the front step, then locked up behind them. They walked together to the truck, and he tried not to notice how much King was limping.
"All right, here we go." Jonah opened the passenger door to his truck. He stood there a moment, watching as King tried and failed to climb onto the seat a few times, occasionally whimpering; then, somewhat hurriedly, he reached out and helped the old dog scramble up. "There, now you've got it," he said gruffly, and perhaps a bit more loudly than usual. "In you go, no problem at all, right?" He stopped to give another affectionate scratch of the shaggy head before gently shutting the door. "Let's have some fun," he added with a brief smile, and King seemed to grin in response.
Jonah took his time running his errands, taking the long way to the post office and hitting both of the town's hardware stores. Throughout the process King sat sprawled on the truck's passenger seat, seeming to enjoy the process, though every once in a while he would give a little whine of pain. Jonah brought him a small treat from Quincy's hardware store, which the dog licked his hand gratefully for before consuming. Eventually all the day's errands were done, except the one Jonah had been dreading most.
He pulled up outside of the long brick building, then sat quietly behind the wheel for a few moments. Beside him King sat calmly, looking sleepy again already from the day's adventure. Finally Jonah sighed, turned off the engine, and exited the truck. His steps were heavy as he came around to the passenger side, and it was only very slowly that he opened the door and carefully helped the dog down to the ground. King whined and shivered, and Jonah passed a hand over his eyes.
"I know, boy, I know," he said quietly. "It's not so easy gettin' around anymore. But just one more thing to do, and then that's all for the day, huh? Then you can..." He swallowed, eyes glistening. "Then you can rest." He knelt down beside King and hugged him gently. "You've been my best friend for all these years... I think you deserve a rest, old boy."
King licked Jonah's face and barked softly. Then Jonah rose and led the slowly limping dog up the steps and into the vet's office.