Small Demon
Apr 212012
 

I buried our old chocolate lab Angel down by the river yesterday — he had progressively lost interest in food over the last six weeks & finally stopped eating. The vet diagnosed a form of leukemia common in old dogs — he was almost 16 — and so we had him euthanized yesterday afternoon while he lay comfortably in the back of the Nissan in the vet’s parking lot. A quiet end for a good dog. We adopted Angel from a family with a little boy who made him nervous enough to growl & snap — he was about five years old at the time (the dog, not the boy) & we had him for about a decade. Because he was temperamentally shy & a bit fearful, he could be a frustrating dog to deal with on occasion, but he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Carole called him the “poet dog” because he was so sensitive.

I brought him home & zipped him inside an old canvas dogbed cover with stylized paw prints printed on it, then went down by the river to dig a grave near where the old bluetick hound Maude and the little French Bulldog Weezer are buried. Digging on our property is difficult — you have to choose between a place full of stones & a place criss-crossed with thick tree roots. The place I chose was full of roots, but after about an hour I had a hole three feet deep & big enough to hold Angel’s body. I lowered him in & shoveled the dirt on top of him, tamped it down & put a big flat stone on top. I gathered up my tools and put them in the wheelbarrow, then paused to wipe sweat from my face. Looking up, I watched a bald eagle fly directly overhead. I like to think the eagle came to escort the dog’s spirit away into the vast emptiness that gives birth to all the myriad things of the world.

Angel in his prime.

 Posted by at 7:59 am

  3 Responses to “Angel (1997-2012)”

  1. Beautifully told, Joe. I am losing my 14 yr old cat right now to similar symptoms, yet undiagnosed, so I can so much relate. You sound like a wonderful dog-parent. My condolences to you and Carole.

  2. I’ve buried a few dogs in this way, though in the Ozark soil, it’s all rocks. Still, it can be done and should be done.

  3. I’m sorry. It sounds like a lovely resting spot.

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