Angel (1997-2012)

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.

Must Have Done Something to Piss Him Off

One of the terriers — & I’m pretty sure I know which one — took a crap in one of my slippers, probably sometime yesterday. When I went to put it on this morning it felt like a sock or something rolled up in there so I reached in with my hand, grabbing a big, now flattened, piece of dog crap. Actually, he was probably trying to be good, since he knows he’s house trained. Must have really had to go but been embarrassed so tried to hide the evidence. Carole thought the whole thing was hysterical, of course, but it took be a bit longer to see the humor.


I like nature’s outsiders. Our regular cohort of crows, of course, along with the lordly raven that lives deeper in the woods up the hill. And also the coyotes my neighbors revile. But then my neighbors — God forgive my saying so — revile many things I hold dear.