Friday, November 18, 2005

A eulogy


Weeks ago, two of my family’s dogs, Jerry and Badger, got out of the yard and ran away. My mom suspected that someone saw Badger on the side of the road and stole her, because she was friendly, still a puppy, and a pure chocolate lab. Jerry, on the other hand, was a mongrel. Badger was a new dog, so her loss hurt less. But Jerry was part of the family. Even after weeks, we held out hope that he would come home.

This evening my mother called me with sad news. She found Jerry.

She found him on the side of the road while she was driving to work in the morning. He was dead. His collar was missing, but my mom is sure that it was him. He was twenty-five miles from home.

Every day since he went missing, my mom said, she hoped that she would see him when she came home. It was easy to imagine him just turning up, running along side the car as it drove up. Jerry was my mom’s guardian; it was his German Shephard blood. He would follow her everywhere, in the fields, in the yard, wherever. When he slept at night, he slept in the hall outside my parents’ bedroom door. He was affectionate and loyal, yet terrifying to strangers. He was a natural.

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Jake and Jerry are the two yellow dogs in the picture. Jerry is – was – the big one. They were the youngest two, and so they became best friends. It wasn’t easy. Jerry was naturally ebullient and excitable, whereas Jake is moody, jealous of affection, and prone to bouts of melancholy. While Jerry challenges young bull calves over the back fence, Jake lies curled up in the shade, looking sad. Whenever the two managed to escape their backyard confines, however, they would be off, immediately, down the road or into the bush, in search of adventure. Frequently I would have to chase after them, shouting vainly for them to stop, to come back, to cease what they no doubt thought was a hilarious assault on the neighbor’s miniature terriers. I would get hot, tired, and mad, but they always came back, eventually. And we would scold them, cuss them out, and forgive them. They were just fun-lovin’ boys having a good time.

When my brother, Jake’s owner, left for school, Jake was sad, but he still had Jerry to wrestle with in the yard and to lie with in the sun. In the old days, before Jerry, Scout was his adventure companion, but Scout is now old, feeble, slightly senile. And now Jerry is gone. It’s just Jake, Scout, and the cats. I don’t know how much Jake knows, or how much it even matters to him, being a dog, but it hurts me to know that his best friend isn’t coming home. It hurts me to know that Jerry isn’t coming home.

Of the dogs in the picture, two are now dead. Max, the brown dog curled up by my side, died at home this past summer. She was old, and her death is another story in itself. We buried her in the front yard, under stones so that the stray dogs and coyotes wouldn’t molest her remains. It is sad to me that Jerry won’t die at home, with white on his muzzle. But in a way, it’s proper, and comforting to me, that he died on the road. He died in his prime, on a grand adventure. It’s foolish to romanticize animals with human qualities, but allow me to imagine that his last thoughts were of home, and of the people who loved him, and of his friend Jake. I’ll thank you to let me imagine these things.

Goodbye, Jerry.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Steer Pike Pie said...

That's sweet, Mundane.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Spill The Beans said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Hun. Pets are like that, aren't they.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Marcguyver said...

Funny how pets can really get attached to us eh?
The best dog I ever had EVER, died freakishly. Came home very late one night with the fam, went to the back yard, and he had strangled himself to death somehow; still not quite sure to this sucked. Cried my little eyes out at around 1:00 in the morning while diggin his grave.


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