I noticed him standing stock still, staring at something off the trail a bit - he moved toward what it was, then yipped like he was stung, and ran towards me, tail between his legs ..looking back in fear. I leashed him up and went to investigate...I couldn't see anything moving.
I saw a tan brown object laying amongst a bunch of Ponderosa Pine saplings. I thought it was a deer or fawn but it didn't have that shape...I got more alarmed thinking maybe it was an injured mountain lion and thought about Austin's fright. The closer I got, however, my heart started to sink, my fear disappeared and I only felt remorse.
Lying peacefully, as though asleep, was a huge Bull Mastiff dog. Definitely deceased (I approached cautiously...I still wasn't sure if it was injured or dead) and intact. Someone's pet.
Then I was angry and I cried and then I felt sorrow...I went through all the emotions of loss in a few seconds. Memories of my own loss of my dog that died in my arms nearly 7 years ago came rushing back. Then I got angry again and thought how irresponsible it was to dump this pet in such an open area.
I was rattled and I left, not sure what to do. One of my dog agility friends lives down the road so I stopped in for some advice. He called the SPCA and the Regional Dog Control but these institutions are not responsible for dead animals. I had to call the municipality. I went home, made a call and waited and debated if I should do anything at all.
The animal was lovingly placed in amongst a grove of small trees, and I felt for the owners and I felt their loss, but I also felt that they had a responsibility to the community and to that dog to dispose/bury/cremate him/her in a suitable manner. Whatever their circumstances, I felt their loss. AND I felt I had to do something.
The call to the municipality amounted to the fact that the hiking area and where the body was dumped are not public - it is private land and I knew that. The municipality couldn't do anything.
I was brought up on a farm, have seen living animals die, have seen dead animals decomposed, but I was still rattled, and I felt drawn to do SOMETHING. It unnerved me so much all afternoon. When the boys got home from school, I donned my barn coat, my work pants, our bow saw, my work gloves, and a couple old towels and I drove back to the trail.
That dear dog was still there, still intact, lying peacefully still. So I started to work, tears in my eyes. I petted his head and back and I covered him up with the old towels. I dragged and collected and sawed pieces of deadfall and built up a tomb of logs and large branches, dirt, grass and pinecones. I worked and worked until I felt that he wouldn't be disturbed by other curious dogs and would decompose naturally over the year.
When I was done, I said a prayer for him. It was a lovely late afternoon, very quiet and not a soul in sight. (It's not a busy place in the best of times). AND I no longer felt angry, remorseful, or sad. Just peaceful. It was something I had to do and in the act of doing, I worked through all those emotions and it was a cathartic experience...
There, I had to share it. The whole incident made me think about the brevity of life, especially for our pets. Appreciate them and hold them in a joyful place in your heart! I do!