Tuesday, April 28, 2009

pet loss

Quite a while ago we were supposed to write about the death of a pet and me, being the procrastinator that I am, put it off to the side with the rest of my blogging.

My family has had quite a few pets and spending most of my early childhood on my grandparent's ranch meant that I saw a lot of birth and a lot of death (and some creating of life, although I just thought they were playing leap frog).

When I was about seven, my grandpa bought a bum calf from a neighboring rancher for my aunt's milk cow who'd lost her calf in a spring snow storm. She didn't take to him, so it became my responsibility to bottle feed the calf and so I naturally formed an attachment to him. What my grandpa didn't tell me was that my little spotted calf was destined for the dinner table. Spotty (my creativity abounded) was slaughtered one day while I was away at my with my paternal Grandparents and that next week I enjoyed quite a few meals at his expense. I didn't notice him missing because at that point he'd been old enough to be turned loose in the small pasture on the east side of the house and I didnt' have to feed him. Unfortunately, my older (and meaner) cousin let it slip where my super tastey hamburger had come from - or my easily distracted seven year old self probably wouldn't have noticed.

That isn't one of the sadder stories of pet loss, just a semi-funny one.

Probably the saddest story is of Buster. Buster was my step grandma's dog and he'd been around as long as I can remember.

My step dad and mom started dating when I was about two and I spent quite a bit of time on his family's ranch playing in mud puddles and finding barn kittens with Buster. He helped me destroy piles of neatly raked leaves and stood guard while I tried to hide a calf from the horror (haha) of branding. He slept under the covers of the pull out couch with me and brought me baby rabbits (as far as I can remember they were always alive. He was a retriever and had a soft mouth). He was there when I rode my first horse and licked my face the first time I was thrown off. Eventually, though, he got old. He started to hobble a bit, lost a few teeth, his sight wasn't so good and we couldn't tell because he'd always been a bit selective about listening, but he was probably losing his hearing too.

He kept up though, bossing the younger dogs around, crawling into my lap in the arena while I took pictures of roping practice - he was doing alright for a dog that was almost 17.

On my 17th birthday -the 4th of July- my grandma got into her truck to drive to our house and accidentally backed over a sleeping Buster. He hadn't heard her start the truck, didn't see it coming towards his sunny spot on the dirt driveway, and wasn't nimble enough to roll out of the way. My step dad had to put him out of his pain.

Poor old man. I still miss his soft floppy ears.

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