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.