Thursday, September 13, 2007

A beautiful fall day in early September

Isn't it funny the rabbit trails our minds take when free to roam? I was driving home from work this evening, listening to my new Johnny Cash CD, The Legend of Johnny Cash, given to me by my sister - just because she is a good sister. I felt good. I had a good day working on some projects I hope will pan out because they involve working with people I really like, on subjects near to my heart, when a line in the song Highwaymen triggered a chain of thoughts. The line "I may become a Highwayman again, or I may become a simple drop of rain" got me thinking of what my remains will become when I die.

I then thought of my old Golden Retriever who I had to put down four years ago. I had her cremated and I scattered her ashes at a bend in the Missouri River where we had our best day of duck hunting. We didn't get that many ducks that day, but Kiela had a great retrieve from the middle of the river on a cold day in December and I got to watch her work well. Then I realized that it was nearly four years ago to the day, another beautiful fall day, that I had to make the call to the vet. The call that put me to my knees. The call where I couldn't believe the words had actually come out of my mouth to make the arrangements. Suddenly those memories came flooding back from out of nowhere. Intensely. Something I hadn't thought of for a while hit me hard. Her memories are usually not far from the surface of my mind since her lifetime spanned some pretty important parts of my life and she was such a character, but I hadn't thought of the day she left for quite a while.

I walked in the door and Laura asked me how my day was and I could only twist up my face and croak out something about Kiela and September and four years. She understood and I didn't have to say much more.

Shortly after I picked up that little mop of a pup with the plumbing I was looking for, I found this short essay by Ben Hur Lampman and I knew the day would come when it would apply to me so I kept it. It certainly describes for me where my dog is buried, not far from the surface.

Where to Bury a Dog
By Ben Hur Lampman

A subscriber of the Ontario Argus has written to the editor asking, “where shall I bury my dog?” It is asked in advance of death.
We would say to the Ontario man that there are various places in which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of the setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing is lost – if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog.
If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call – come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming for he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

Where to Bury a Dog originally appeared as an editorial in the Portland Oregonian on September 11, 1925. It was later included in a collection of Mr. Lampman’s work entitled How Could I be Forgetting? It has been reprinted at least twice in Reader’s Digest. I found it in Gun Dog magazine.

I sure loved that dog, my first.

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