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.

Birds Macro & Micro

This morning on the dog walk up the Morgan Road we heard a pair of loons calling to each other and last night while I was watering a flowerbed a ruby-throated humming bird came and flitted around the milkweed, then perched for a full minute on a trellis, studying me, I fancied, before streaking off toward the woods by the pond. Looking online this morning, I see that that three-inch bird has migrated to my yard from Central America. Amazing.Speaking of the pond, Carole rescued a painted turtle from the road on her way home from work yesterday and when we set him down at the edge of the water, he slid right in and made a graceful arc downward, disappearing in the murk.

Outsiders

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.

Loons!

The last two mornings I heard a loon’s call just after dawn, then this morning walking the dogs along the river, Carole & I saw a pair of loons — a nesting pair we think — on the river right across from our house. When the male noticed us he took of toward the south, soon to be followed by the female; they made a broad turn over the highway bridge and headed back north toward the outflow pond from the dam, where they are probably nesting. I’d heard the call in previous years but never seen one here in South Colton, let alone a pair. Loons are an indicator species — they don’t do well in polluted water — so seeing them makes me happy for our local space. It means the world hasn’t ended yet.