Last Friday was the first anniversary of our Cockerpoo Spice's death (that's him in the photo across), so of course Larry and I went to his grave and just stood there remembering him and the good times we'd had throughout the seventeen-and-half years of his full life. His grave looked pretty.
Last fall, one evening when the Pennsylvanian air was icy and thick with the promise of a wicked winter (a promise that wasn't kept...thankfully) I planted two large packets of daffodils on the grave, nine in each of the four corners and then mulched the top. It had been mucky but satisfying work, a sort of labor of love performed in the dusky solitude. It also brought to mind another beloved dog I'd once owned.
Sandy was a corgi-terrier mix and I'd had him when I was a kid back in Northern Ireland and he'd died prematurely, poisoned by the British Army who used to sneak up to people's houses late at night and listen at the windows in hopes of hearing people talk about being in the IRA or planning something, etc. (I lived in a staunchly Nationalist area.) To stop the dogs barking, they fed them poisoned meat to kill them and my Sandy must have ate a piece because I found him dead, his mouth caked with spent froth, in the garage next morning. Anyway, Mum allowed me to take the day off school to grieve and I held his rigid corpse for hours before I wrapped my school tie around his neck and buried him in the garden. (Thanks for that, Mum.)
We bought Spice's daffodils on a whim. We'd been visiting a local garden store and happened to notice them in a bin--an 'end of season' sale sort of bin--and as we hadn't decided how to mark his grave, they seemed the perfect answer. We figured they'd beautify the area in spring and be a lasting reminder.
To my surprise, when we arrived at the grave last Friday, the daffodils were in vibrant bloom, most of them anyway. It was like our dog was giving us a gift.
Today, I had a call from a feature editor of a website that's running a tie-in feature with the film entitled Year of the Dog starring the incomparable Molly Shannon of Saturday Night Live fame. It's about a woman and her dog, and the dog dies, and how she tries to rebuild her life, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'll link to the interview when it posts on May 5th.
As I reread this, I realize some people will think this guy's crazy writing about his grief over a dog, but I don't really give a damn. People need to grieve. They need to grieve over humans that die--in my opinion, people don't grieve sufficiently about anyone other than very...and I mean very...immediate family nowadays, and even then their grief's not for long because they get distracted with stuff that doesn't mean much in the end--and they need to grieve over their animals. It's good and right, period.