Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Mourns The Dog?

When our beloved livestock guardians die, we mourn them. It isn't surprising that their co-workers, especially with a male/female pair, mourn them. Here is a story about the other mourners - the stock they guard, and the tribute the stock paid to their lost protector.

Well, I really didn't plan on posting anything else about Sampson, but the reaction of the animals at our place was so moving and interesting, I had to share. Most of you know, but quick background: Sampson, just turned 5; Great Pyr - Bone Cancer. Nothing could be done and we had to put him down. We planned to do that here at the farm and bury him in the woodland meadow where he could guard forever.

I asked all of you on the lists: - what about his soul mate Molly? Should she see him after? I got so many replies and pretty much all of them said yes. So we decided we would do that. We put Sampson on a blanket in our small tractor cart and drove into the field. Jon stopped once he got in there and turned off the tractor. It was so moving, but not because of Molly. She came over and sniffed his face and wagged and touched his face with her nose. But perhaps the most interesting and moving thing to us was the two miniature donkeys and the two goats.

They also came over and suddenly there were five noses, quietly leaning into the cart, touching his nose, his face. Not scared or skittish...just touching. Elmo the goat raised his head to peer into my eyes and then dropped his head again to touch Sammy. They followed us across the field, to the back gate into the woodland.

The woodland has a meadow and we rotate our few critters in and out of there... but they are all very sociable and prefer to stay in our front pasture. If I DO want them there for the day, I have to entice them back with food. Especially the donkeys like to stay in the front pasture.

Not this time. They followed and we left all of them behind the gate because our neighbor who does excavation etc. for a living had dug a large and deep hole for us and I didn't want anybody falling in. But as we went through the gate and I closed it, I called to Jon to stop the tractor and look back. Both donkeys and both goats we right there - looking through the gate, noses literally pressed up to it. Ears forward, watching.

I added the ashes of Toby who we lost 3 1/2 years ago, (first time I ever had an animal cremated) and who I just never seemed to get around to spreading. This felt right and I put him with Sammy's body. It was dark when we left the field. No predator ever DARE visit that meadow now.

Finally, this morning we went out and opened the back gate, Molly at our side. Her head went to the ground, following the path the little tractor had taken the night before and she went to the grave. Sniffed and checked it out. But then, guess what? Here came both goats and both donkeys - directly to the grave, walking there, sniffing the dirt and sticking to Jon and I like glue. They seemed to want and need extra love and attention. They stayed right with us all the time, until we finally walked out of the woodland and across the front pasture and into the house.

So, a chapter ends and now the healing can begin. I've included a photo of the meadow and Elmo and Chloe the goats, Little John and Snowman the donkeys.

Linda Anderson
Nightsky Farm

Thanks Linda for letting me share this touching tale.


Veryl said...

Loved the story on LGD. Still love the story. Thanks for giving it a larger venue. Hugs.

Rosemary Crawford said...

That is a touching story. I love the great Pyranees dogs. My sister has always had that breed and they are so sweet. I don't have any pets now, but have witnessed many similar things in the years when we did have animals and a small farm.

Judy said...

I think we humans tend to underestimate the complexity of animals. Linda's story is so very touching. Thanks Rosemary for sharing that you've witnessed the same things.

So many of us miss these precious moments.

Linda said...

Linda, Sampson's "mom" here.. I just had to add... this evening, Molly (the one left behind) was watching the donkeys as they cavorted and reared and played with each other and as they went by, she would play bow and jump and try to join in. It was sad because she played so much with Sammy. The donkeys didn't include her though (just as well, even though they are small, they play rough).

Judy said...

Poor Molly. It's so hard losing your best friend and partner. Thanks for sharing the ongoing behavior.