Since Buddy, my 11-year-old Shepherd/Collie dog, died in January 0f 2008 in the deep of winter, I had gone through a plethora of emotions I never would have imagined I’d feel. There is the great loss of a constant, faithful, life-giving friend who, in hindsight, shared so much of my living those 11 years and made me feel I was never alone, even when I was without another living soul but him. And there is also the emptiness and sorrow that comes with all loss. I came across this beautiful tribute to a dog and thought of Buddy and my dog Bear who died in 2012 as well as the many other dogs and animals that were much loved by their owners who are parishioners. I think it’s beautiful in the true sense of the word. I think it is no coincidence that “dog” is “God” spelt backwards. In so many ways our pets display far better than we humans what unconditional love is really all about. A naturally wild animal that travelled in a pack has evolved, due to its qualities, to become a loyal and trusted friend, who gives far more than we could ever possibly give in return. Over the past few years I have met and looked into the eyes of so many who, like me, uttered those words that choke us in the thinking not to mention the saying; “My dog died.”
“We are thinking now of a 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 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 his head to challenge some intruder. These are good places in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. 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 lane where most exhilarating cattle graze, it is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, nothing is lost, if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.
If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, 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, or resent his coming, for he is yours and belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, 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 the heart of his master.” (Author Unknown)