Burying the dead


In the midst of the ongoing battle to save the petshop, M and I had remembered that there were a few little ones to be buried.  For some time now, we have been burying the pet shop animals in my garden.  It started with Lucky, the rabbit, who died tragically and was buried with much regret and heartbreak.  After that, it seemed natural that the rest of the animals who found themselves residents of the pet shop, through circumstance and rescue, came to be buried there too, along with my foxes and a few other pets of our acquaintance who lived in homes without gardens.  Not for nothing is my garden known locally as Pet Cemetery.

Normally, a few times a year, M and I will get together to do this.  We take an evening out, I choose a spot in the garden and then either dig the hole myself or get someone in to do this (depending on the state of my back).  We then sit together, remember the animals and give them a proper send off and burial.

This time though, there was no time to do it together – Marion was completely tied up, she was having a tough enough time trying to rehome the living animals, never mind bury the dead, so I was on my own.  Drafting in my brother-in-law, who digs like a demon and who is very tolerant of Marion and my idiosyncracies, I set out on Saturday a few weeks ago to do this.

I had forgotten though, that amongst the little ones, was a cat.  The cat had been hit by a car up the road from the petshop and someone had picked it up and thrown it in a bin and then come and told M about it.  I won’t comment on that behaviour.  Nor will I comment on the behaviour of someone who lets their cat out regularly on a main road, next to a police station with cars and emergency vehicles zooming up and down the road at speed.

M had gone straight up the road, retrieved the cat’s body, checked whether or not she was actually dead and not just wounded (she was dead) and then read the collar.  She was a gorgeous cat, called Poppy, a dark tortoiseshell and quite young.  She called the owner and explained what had happened and that someone had found her cat.  The owner was very upset, thanked M and said that she would collect Poppy’s body.

Time went on and it became obvious that the owner wasn’t going to collect the cat’s body.  M had three choices – pay for a cremation (which was way more than she could afford), throw the cat’s body in the rubbish (not actually an option she or I would consider) or give her to me to bury.  She knew I’d be upset.  I was and on several levels.

My brother-in-law dug a superb hole – just the right size and the right depth.  I had prepared a card with the little ones’ names, dates of the birth where we had them and dates of death which I then wrap in plastic so that if anyone ever digs up the garden, they know what they disturb.

I took the little ones out and did my usual and then I took Poppy out.  M always wraps the little ones in towel so that I can place them straight in the grave without having to unwrap them.  Poppy however was in a box and wrapped in plastic for obvious reasons, so I needed to unwrap her before I could bury her.

The damage from the car which hit her was obvious on one side.  However, this did not detract from the fact (i) she was absolutely stunning and (ii) it was a complete waste of her life to have it cut so short.  Thankfully, she appeared to have died very quickly and had not suffered.

I placed Poppy in her grave and the little ones round her and sprinkled flowers over them.  Poppy looked so peaceful and so beautiful and my heart broke to think that her owner not only treated her carelessly in life but carelessly in death also.

I buried her with as much love as I could send her as well as a fervent wish for a happy afterlife.  It seemed important to do this properly, more so than normal.  I guess I was trying to make up for the fact that she had had a short life with such a useless owner.

I covered the little ones up and K, bless him, finished off and levelled the ground for me.  I lit incense and sprinkled essential oils over the top to ensure that they would rest undisturbed.

It left me with a question.  What type of person leaves their animals like so much rubbish to be disposed of by others?  Was Poppy’s owner just too upset to collect her?  Or was she just behaving as she had done when Poppy was alive, with no thought to her own responsibility for her animal’s welfare?  How can someone be so selfish as to offload that responsibility onto someone else?

I would never, ever, no matter how badly damaged they were or how upset I was, allow someone else to bury my animals.  They are my responsibility in life and they will be in death too.

However, people won’t be able to dump on M much longer.  Despite taking expensive legal advice, the most her solicitor could achieve was a further two month’s notice.  The shop will close after Christmas.

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About titflasher

Writer, blogger, animal activist, people activist, dream-catcher maker, mommy to 9 cats and a roving band of foxes ... Blog name comes from my father's suggestion for the title of my autobiography ... after my mother's and my awful habit of flashing whenever the security police took our photo in the dark old days of apartheid South Africa. I love nature, including creepy crawlies and people, find life fascinating and frustrating and have two terrible weaknesses - nictotine and animals in distress ... can't abide the latter situation and can't give up the former. I'm Pagan but not anti-Christian, funny but quite serious, light-hearted but can be annoying. I am warm-hearted until someone p*sses on me too much, then I get soggy and even. Feel free to link me but all the words on these pages is copyrighted, so copy it and take the credit and I will find you and slap you upside the head, hard. The blog is probably best read via category as there is loads on here already, and I just got started :-)
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