Living on a farm… death happens.
It happens fairly often, actually. We have five new baby chicks, and one of them drowned in the waterer last week. One night a raccoon got into the adult hens, killed one of them and left most of its body. Ray has lost pet mice, tropical fish, and a very long-lived crayfish. Last year, our old goat passed away.
But none of these events were anything like losing the family dog over Christmas week this year. Soon afterwards, I wrote the story of his last days because the guys’ reactions were so moving. Here it is below.
Nemo passed away yesterday. Our old, smelly, incontinent, hairless chihuahua mutt who lived in a crate in our dining room for the past year. No one knows how old he really was… he had been rescued from a dark basement, starving and without water… and he became part of the dog family on the hill after we read his sad story on Craigslist.
His basement experience led him to drink as much water as he could find…. hence the incontinence when the gallon of liquid moved through his tiny body.
So he lived in the crate….
But a funny thing happened. This smelly and quite unattractive creature somehow won the hearts of these guys here on the Hill. Jose always entered the house calling to Nemo, so he could hear him howl. Michael lifted him out of the crate each evening to sit in the rocking chair with him and tell him stories of the day. The dining room is the center of social activity, and everyone was in tune with Nemo’s needs. ‘Nemo do you need water?’ ‘Nemo needs to go out…..get him outside quick!’ ‘Where’s Nemo, he’s been outside too long’. ‘He’s cold’. ‘He’s hot’. ‘He’s still hungry we need to feed him more’. ‘Give him chicken’. ‘Nemo’s at the door, someone LET HIM IN!!!!!’
Six guys with social issues, coming together over an unlikely mascot.
We all watched Nemo fade away these past weeks; he was treated with such gentleness and compassion. And when it came time to say goodbye, everyone came together to prepare his gravesite, our first here at the house. The guys dug a hole together, taking turns…. the goats and pigs watching from the other side of the fence. We told our favorite Nemo stories and laid him gently down.
Then Jose howled. And we all joined in.
And today, the day after, the guys are still howling… and visiting Nemo’s grave. And saying how much they miss him… and giving each other HUGS for comfort.
Genuine empathy transcends all social missteps. Social issues on hold for now.