In the wake of sweet Memphis’s passing on to her next astral plane, the days have not yet resumed any feeling of normalcy. My habits still include her and I still expect her appearance in the typical places I would normally have seen her. I had no idea just how much her being here interacted with my every day goings on in my barn world. Never intrusive, but always there to accept a belly scratch if offered, Memphis was just the happy Buddha that colored my days with her optimism.
She was only one of the dogs to follow and join me whenever I rode my horses out into the woods behind the house or out into the big field below the pond dam. When I rode out yesterday it was my first time out without her since she passed, and it was quiet and lonely without my buddy trotting along side. I catch myself expecting to see her laying at the front of the barn, waiting on me to mount up and go. I also still impulsively go to the feed can to get her feed to put in her silver bowl, and then stop myself and remember that, she is gone.
In reflecting on my own loss of her and how it has affected my mood on the farm, I have watched the rest of the pack and how her disappearance has affected them and how it has changed the hierarchy left behind. They have all reacted differently and positions have changed. Do they know that she died? I do not know that, nor in what concept might they perceive her being gone means. I can’t pretend to think that they miss her in exactly the same way as I do, but in watching them it is clear that her absence has disrupted their patterns and they seem to be at a loss, too.
The shepherd was the only one who directly asked what happened when we brought the body home from the vet. Heidi had raised her nose when we had opened the door to the truck where Memphis’ body lay, now in repose, and gave a worried look. We then went into the house to gather our thoughts about where best to bury the ol’ girl and Heidi rushed in and went directly to the last place where Memphis had lain. There was a blanket under the steps where Memphis spent her last hours here at home, now vacant. Heidi stood on the blanket and scratched it to pull it back as if to reveal Memphis underneath it. She then lay on it herself and nudged it with a serious few bumps with that long nose of hers and again looked as us with those big intelligent eyes, asking the question, “Where did she go?”, but I had no answer for her.
Of the rest of the pack, Marley the mighty Yorkie, was the closest buddy to Memphis and regularly followed the yellow dog across the pond dam behind the barn to the gate that joins our land with our neighbor to go visit their dogs over there. Occasionally though, Marley remained behind and waited for Memphis to go and then come trotting back. Recently Marley has spent long periods of time lying under the big oak at the edge of the pond keeping her eyes toward the trail they used to share, waiting for the yellow dog to return.
Heidi still rules the floor, her bowl, and her bed, but of all the ironies of life, the Jackapotomus, has now put himself in charge of patrol detail and has become first sentry in the line of defense of the home place, barking bravely at the slightest hint of an intruder. This former shy, cowardly little terrier has risen to the self appointed ranks of Alpha. There seems to be a brighter candle burning in the mighty little dog that was not there before. He still cowers at the sound of a bicycle pump, or any type of air hose, and runs to hide, but for the most part Jack is now the Man. There is a swagger to his trot now. The tail is high, and his hairy ears bounce and blow in the wind. At long last, Jack rules, for the most part, and at least in his opinion.
September’s passing also brings a thankful end of summer. The days have begun to lose the misery of the heat, and while the humidity remains for now, it is bearable. Out along the edges of the fields, trying to stay in the shadows of the tree lines, deer are starting to move around getting ready for the rut season coming soon. They also seem to be aware that the yellow dog is gone, who used to chase them out of the yard, and now they brazenly pass through, grazing on the leaves of the pear trees and picking up the wild grapes that have dropped on the patio.
Hummingbirds, in huge numbers, have invaded the area and I have fed our visitors over five pounds of sugar in the past two weeks, and that is even at a low ratio of four to one, of water to sugar. We have never seen the vast numbers of the little buzzers like this year and we have been thoroughly entertained watching them buzzing around the yard, fighting over, and quickly draining, their easy sugar source from our feeder.