Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friends Who Help You With Dead Animals

While I was wondering this morning whether I should blog about my old dog or the pope, a friend texted me.  She wanted to know if I would bury her old dog should said dog die this weekend, while she was out of town.  I said of course.  She said, her animal cemetery or mine, didn't matter.  That's good, because given the size of the dog I'd probably need to use the scoop on my tractor to dig the hole, and I'd rather not take the tractor to her place.  Far easier to transport the dead dog.

If all this seems a bit macabre to you, you clearly don't live in the country.  Long ago, when we first moved out to our farm, my son, then about seven years old, looked up from his dinner and asked, "What are we going to do when Trapper dies?"  Trapper was my very old horse.  I'd always hoped he'd live out his last years on a piece of land I owned, and he did; it was a gift.  "Well," I said to my son, "Lisa knows a guy with a backhoe who will dig a big hole.  And I thought we'd bury him in the low spot beneath the walnut grove, right against the little stand of trees.  That's a pretty place." 

My husband sputtered in shock.  "That's not what he means!" he said.

"Yes, it is," said my son.

When Trapper did die, my friend Lisa oversaw the burying, because I couldn't bear it.  It was a sort of payback for the day I help wrest the body of a dead foal away from her grief-stricken mare.  (If you don't think animals grieve, you've never tried to restrain a 1500-pound animal that wanted her baby back, right now.)  I in turn paid it forward, standing beside the backhoe while a lovely horse named Templeton was put into the ground.  And while I don't think my friend's dog will die this weekend--he's old, but not yet in extremis--if I do bury him, I'll think back to the cold dark night when the same friend's husband helped me bury a dead sheep.  It seems like a circle of life, but it's not really.  It's a circle of love.

P.S. to my son:  don't worry.  Our old dog is doing fine.