With their shorter lifespans and/or predator natures, animals often turn out to be our first teachers about life, dying, and death. Their gifts in this area are generous and profound. Here are a few posts about some of the things they’ve taught me.
I learned that a big, flatulent, snore-prone, asthmatic bulldog died suddenly of a heart attack over in Wales a few days ago. Her name was Constance and her bereft humans are John and Chris. The news made me sad. They’d only had her for about ten months…she was a kinda, sorta rescue dog…but in that short time they fell for her pretty hard.
He sidled back and forth along the length of the valance, first to the left, then to the right, over and over again, like a loved one pacing the corridors of a hospital. He knew something was wrong and it seemed to fill him with unease.
My father’s voice in my head told me I should put it out of its misery but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I drowned a litter of mice once and (even though it’s probably not true) swore afterwards I’d never do anything like that again. Killing is a tough job, and it doesn’t get any easier just because it’s the compassionate thing to do.
Hours later on our way back down the mountain we’d both forgotten about it so it took us by surprise all over again, when we drove around the bend and saw three or four crows and an eagle lifting off of it and flying into the trees. Sy was fast turning into the Monday buffet and there was something really comforting about that. The Cycle Of Things is always comforting to me.
It was from Neighbor Lady (voice also trembling uncontrollably) letting me know they were at the vet where they’d discovered that Tinkerbell had multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung, and surgery on her was going to cost about $3,000. She was sobbing into the voice messaging center that they couldn’t afford it and, if we didn’t pay for it, they were going to have to put her down.
Up until that moment (even with a $3400 vet bill) I hadn’t really gotten it, how bad we’d been as dog owners.
Once upon a time veterinary options were limited, choices were simple and, when it got serious, there was no choice at all. It was just time to put Fido or Whiskers down.
Well then. Here’s an interesting development. The news broke day before yesterday that two wolves took down a cow about a mile west of where I regularly take Dane up hiking in the hills. Suddenly, the highly controversial …
Our hostess was tolerant, respectful, and perhaps a little amused as I knelt by the cooler and said last rites over them. Then, after studying her method as she transferred a couple to the pot, I picked one up myself, walked over and, with one last quick prayer, pushed it headfirst into the boiling water after which I stood back to watch.
In our last episode I’d just witnessed the dying throes of a lobster being boiled alive for dinner. My appetite had taken a big hit yet I was still facing the prospect of now having to sit down and dine. I was in trouble.
Whoa. It was so not what I expected to find in an old neighborhood, clean, really friendly (and evidently quite popular with the jazz crowd) bar on a late Saturday morning in San Francisco. But there it was. A pickled tiger penis.
I just stumbled across this three minute, somewhat-unnerving-yet-deeply-moving video of Nina Salerosa, a woman diver, interacting with sharks down in the Bahamas. Frankly, I didn’t believe this kind of gentle relationship was even possible and yet here it is anyway. Sometimes it feels so good to be wrong.