My co-worker lost a pet this week. He was a wiener dog that had to be put down because his liver was failing. The story broke my heart and got me thinking about my own pets’ mortality. Bug and Jack are no spring chickens, although Jack’s got enough energy for all four of us. But Bug’s about to turn nine and Jack will be seven in the fall. Bug’s also had his share of health problems. So I know the time is coming. It makes me wonder how I’ll handle the situation.
When I was growing up, my dad always took care of our pets who passed away. I can’t begin to count how many animals he’s buried over the years: dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep, pigs, even horses. There’s the story of Gray Lady. Dad had to dig a hole with the backhoe to bury her because she was such a large horse. But Hank, our other horse, climbed into the grave with her and wouldn’t leave her side. It took a lot of coaxing and pulling to get him out.
When Hank died just last year, Pmo and I had just come home from our honeymoon. We were pulling into the driveway and I could see Dad waist high in the pond pulling on something. Mom said she saw Hank in the water earlier. Dad figured he had stumbled into the water and just couldn’t get out. He was pretty old, too. Dad had to get the tractor to pull the lifeless Hank out of the pond in order to lay him in the ground.
Now it’s my turn. When my pets die, my dad’s not going to be here to take care of it. I’ll be the one to bury them or maybe even cremate them. I’ll have to decide whether to get a new dog or just let it be for awhile. They say death is a part of life, but a dog’s life is not that long. So if you invite these furry friends into your life, you’re going to go through several times over. But thinking about all of this makes me hold onto Bug a little tighter. Not get so mad at Jack when he messes up. And bless Pmo’s heart for putting up with all of us.
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changes ‘cause I built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older, too.”
-Landslide by Fleetwood Mac