No, this is not a Stephen King sequel.
Our son and his wife recently had to euthanize one of their beloved dogs. Hazel was fragile when she showed up on their doorstep years ago; sadly, that’s probably the reason someone turned her out of their own yard. But she couldn’t ask for a better family with which to spend her last years.
After the procedure was complete and they gave their other dogs an opportunity to say their goodbyes, they brought Hazel to our property for her final resting place. There’s a beautiful grove of oak trees that will provide eternal shade for her and her companions.
The concept of a pet cemetery may be foreign to some people, but having grown up the son of a veterinarian it is very comfortable for me. As a kid, I could usually count on earning a few dollars from my dad by digging holes for small pets that had passed away. His clinic was surrounded by a barbwire fence and so we targeted the fence posts as markers for the deceased pets. It took a good memory to know which post was the next to be used. As far as I remember, only one cat earned the privilege of a granite headstone.
Our own pets did not get buried with those of clients. We had our own cemetery behind the house in the back pasture. At some point I began carving names and dates into limestone bricks and marking the graves of our dogs (and occasional cats). I think the first dog we lost was Sleepy (named because her eyes were still closed when she was discovered on our property). Then there was Tiger Marie (my brother and I thought it would be fun to give them middle names at some point). Tiger was a Rat Terrier and looked nothing like a Tiger; no one ever explained the origin of her name to me. She spent most of her life with one eye, but never shied away from tangling with a skunk and coming out of the fight yellow.
The greatest dog who ever lived is buried under those trees. His name was Snoopy (Snoopy Tom), a Springer Spaniel who survived a deadly fever as a puppy and was gifted to us by the breeders. He was the greatest companion a kid could ask for. His son and grandson are buried there too. As hard as we tried to make them measure up to their bloodline, they never quite achieved the same status. Others sharing the space, that I can remember 40+ years later, are Aggie Jo, Terrie-the-terrifying-terrier and the cats Starky and Snow White. The memories of childhood are sweetened by all these incredible pets.
Here in our own pet cemetery, Hazel will join our cats Cara (named for the Dodge Caravan engine block we pulled her from as a kitten) and Smokey (supposedly named by a neighbor who convinced our boys to adopt him while Jenni and I were out running errands). We also made a spot for our Penny who disappeared from our property several years ago, we believe at the hands of coyotes. We buried a can with her collar, a favorite toy, a flyer we printed when she was lost, and a note we wrote her. Jenni and I still cry when we talk about Penny and what a wonderful dog she was. I still wait for her to come through the pet door. Perhaps the greatest dog in the world comes along more than once in your life.
One of my daughters-in-law made the comment recently that “humans don’t deserve dogs”. I think she may be right. But aren’t we blessed that we get to spend a little time with them on earth before they become the angels they deserve to be?
Thanks for the thoughts. They helped me to remember the many companions I have had in my life. 5 have been cremated and are in a special place and urn here with me. All are still deep in my heart along with the 3 that are living with me now that bring me such joy and love.