It was around Halloween. And it was a damp and chilly night. Friends and neighbors gathered at dusk in our backyard for the burial of a dead dog.
Jim dug the hole; Ben gave a eulogy; Pete brought a gravestone. The small gathering joined voices in song as Benjamin and Josie, the two youngsters in the group, carried the dog to its final resting place. We each took turns throwing clumps of dirt into the hole, and one last shovelful finished the job.
“He was such a good dog. Never barked once.”
There were a few claps on the back, a few hugs and then we all trouped inside to a large pot of chili, chips, salsa and cider. Sitting around the table with steaming bowls of soup, the story of the dog was retold.
When we bought our current house, we had one final appointment to sign all the papers and receive the keys from the former owners. As they handed over the keys, the realtor asked, “Are you going to tell them about the house pet?” Jim and I looked at each other.
What pet? “Oh, yes. When you open the garage, don’t be surprised to see a dog, staring at you.”
And so they told us how the owners before them had a daughter. She had a dog whom she dearly loved. When it died, she could not bear to part with it, so her parents decided to have it stuffed.
All these years, the dog had lived its taxidermied life in the house, until the current owners decided they had to move it to the garage. They did not want to get rid of it, out of superstition, and thought that if it stayed with the house, it could only be good karma.
So, along with a house, we inherited a stuffed dog. We thought long and hard about what to do with it and one solution finally became clear. We would bury it in the yard where it lived all those years.
Since Halloween was just around the corner, the timing was perfect! We invited neighbors and friends who all joined in the business at hand. Josie researched the breed. Pete brought the headstone. Quips and quotes flew through the air. “He was such a good dog. Never barked once.”
That Halloween was one to remember. And every now and then, when the moon gets full and the jack-o-lanterns smile their crooked and spooky smiles, and I hear a dog howling, I think about a dog who finally found a resting place.
Here is a good recipe for a chilly night. Jim makes this at our house.
Spaghetti with chicken, Brussels sprouts and carrots
- 1 pound chicken breast, diced
- a little bit of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup white wine
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ tsp. basil leaves
- ¼ tsp. thyme
- ½ to ¾ lb. of fresh Brussels sprouts
- ½ pound of thin spaghetti
- 2 tbsp. butter
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil, until tender. Add the chicken and stir until nice and brown.
- Add carrots, Brussels sprouts, white wine, water and spices. Add more water as needed. Simmer until vegetables are just tender.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to directions on package. Drain and immediately stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Serve chicken and vegetables over spaghetti.