Celebrating Animals at Easter

Garden - Lucky grave 2This Easter Sunday, daffodils are blooming in the back yard where we buried our golden retriever Lucky in early autumn a few years ago. I planted his grave with daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, and a couple of years later, we buried our cat Beep beside him. A decade or two from now, we’ll probably have to leave this home for something more age-appropriate, unless of course we’re carried out feet first, but before then, chances are we’ll bury another pet or two beside them.

In any case, the spring flowers will probably flourish long after we’re gone. After this year’s brutal winter, they’re a bit scraggly, but they’re more robust than the other spring bulbs I’ve planted in our yard. I’m sure the nutrients Lucky and Beep have given back to the earth play a major role in sustaining them. For me, the cycle of life, and especially the way nature renews itself this time of year, is what Easter’s all about.

In our modern society, we seldom experience death first-hand, except of course for our own, but animals help ground us in the reality of mortality. I’ve been with beloved dogs and cats when they died, some at home, some at the vet’s, where they met a far more humane and gentle death than most of us can look forward to. I’ve grieved and mourned for them, even sunk into clinical depression over their loss.

Yet sooner or later I’ve welcomed other pets into my home and heart, and dared to love them even though I know that chances are

Sirius

Sirius

they’ll leave this world before I do. Lucky and Beep are gone, along with other beloved dogs and cats, but now we share our home with Sirius, a chow-Australian shepherd mix, and Lunesta, a beautiful tabby with orange patches modulating her stripes. Many studies have shown people with pets live longer, and this Easter I’m praying for a good long life for everyone in my family – people and animals alike.

Less beloved critters can teach us about mortality too. On Good Friday my daughter reported that my eight-year-old granddaughter Jasper watched one of their cats kill a mouse, slowly and with relish. Jasper composed a memorial tribute, which Stacey posted on Facebook: “Fred was a brave mouse. He survived many things – until he died.” She then buried him in a shoe box in their back yard, with no one else watching – “Eleanor Rigby style,” as Stacey put it.

The next day, Stacey mentioned seeing signs that there might be other mice in the house. Jasper’s response: “Then we’d better go shopping and buy a lot of shoes.”

On that happy note, I’ll sign off and wish you a joyful Easter, however you choose to celebrate it. Lacking any traditional rituals, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, take it out to the garden, play in the dirt and see which perennials have resurrected themselves after the seemingly endless winter.

Lunesta with mice

Lunesta with mice

 

 

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Animals at Easter

  1. Hydrogen peroxide can save a dog’s life! On Thursday night, my husband and I came home from seeing the movie “Noah” to find our dog Sirius had eaten an entire 3-ounce bar of dark chocolate with coffee beans. We immediately checked online and found a site that assesses the degree of risk by calculating the dog’s weight, amount and type of chocolate eaten. Sirius came up as a mild to moderate risk but nevertheless it said we should contact a vet immediately. So we called a local 24-hour animal emergency hospital in Latham that we’d used before. This was around midnight, but a live woman answered, checked the info, then told us to give him hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. We usually have it around, but couldn’t find any, so Robb drove over to Walmart and picked up a bottle.

    The woman told us to hold his head and pour it full-strength down his throat. This should induce vomiting, but if it didn’t, she said we should bring him in. Sure enough, it worked after about 10 minutes, just as she’d said it should. He puked up an enormous amount of undigested stuff, including some fatty turkey skin he’d had earlier. He was pretty exhausted afterwards, but he was fine the next day.

    I’ll probably write more about this in a future post, but there are several lessons to be learned:
    1. Have the number of a good vet who’s on call 24/7
    2. Don’t rely on the internet for specific advice. Every site I checked said simply to call your vet. They probably keep it general so as to avoid liability issues, but you could be wasting precious time.
    3. Keep some hydrogen peroxide on hand.
    4. Lock up your chocolate! Maybe you shouldn’t be eating it anyway.

    Fortunately Sirius is fine. His major symptom after eating the chocolate was running around in a manic frenzy, but in some dogs this hyper condition could trigger a heart attack.

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