I Lied. There Is One More “Stories of My Mother”

mother-and-daughter

When Heidi went into heat the next time, my parents arranged to have her spend a number of days with the breeders where we got her. They had selected a mate for her. We all drove out to drop her off. The house lay at the fringes of land that were well past the suburbs, but not quite rural. There seemed to be dogs everywhere, some in large cages set around the enormous yard, and others who roamed the house freely. I wondered if the same dogs always got to live inside, or if the breeders rotated them inside and out, following some schedule. Their immense pride in their dogs was evident. Both the man and the woman went on at length, telling me each of the dog’s names and several of their predominant character traits. I got the feeling that I was actually supposed to remember all this, because of their joy and the weight they gave to every detail they imparted.

It was a confusing mess to me, despite the good cheer. I wanted to know if Heidi would have to be outside in one of the cages, and I was told that she would, because she and her new male friend would need privacy and time to get to know one another. I could not understand the convivial good spirits everybody seemed to share. We were abandoning Heidi with strangers who were going to make her live outside all the time.

The body of a female dog makes a complete puppy from the original fertilized cell in about 63 days. The average size of a litter is 5-6 puppies, although the variation is enormous. It’s rare to have just one puppy in a litter, but it does happen. A couple of months after we fetched Heidi from her exile, my parents once again got the wooden pen ready for her in the basement. The same old blue bedspread and dingy pink blanket that her first litter had been born onto lay on the floor. Heidi occasionally scratched at the blankets, rearranged them with her nose and paws, and circled around and around as she waited.

One afternoon, Heidi squatted down in a corner of the pen and stayed in the same position, motionless, and staring straight ahead. She looked like she was trying very hard to poop. I wanted to ask my mother if this was true, but she had already told me that I needed to stay completely quiet if I was going to watch. Heidi let out a long, low moan. She inched her rear end closer to the floor, so slowly, and out came a translucent thick balloon with a puppy inside of it.

mary-cassatt-mother-combing-her-child-s-hair

There was only one puppy, which was an enormous surprise. My parents decided that we should keep her, and that she should be named “Elf,” the German word for eleven. She was to be the 11th dog that my family had. They counted the dog that my father’s nurse had gotten for us unannounced. We visited him where he was chained at the far end of our back yard until my mother couldn’t stand it for another minute. I’m not really sure what happened to Toby. They also counted the black puppies that had not been viable.

I don’t think my parents realized that Heidi had been a relatively compliant, trainable dog until Elf. Looking back, I think Elf was most likely just dumb as a box of rocks. Even in photographs, she has a wild, glassy look in her eye – an animal with unbridled enthusiasm, absolutely no comprehension, the brute strength of an ox, the stubbornness of a mule, and a bad bad case of ADD.

I thought having two dogs was great fun.

My grandmother (the good, good one) was visiting us, and my mother had planned a big dinner. An eight pound beef roast sat on our kitchen counter, thawing out for the upcoming feast. My grandmother heard a commotion, and walked in to find Elf with the giant slab of meat clenched firmly in her jaws. My grandmother shouted “NO NO NO,” and reached out with both hands to rescue the meat. Elf snapped at her. My grandmother called out for my mother, who came running into the kitchen and immedaitely understood the situation. My mother spoke firmly to the dog and reached for the roast. Elf snapped at her as well.

I didn’t see any of this. I came in at the part where my mother told me that my grandmother was going to be in charge for a little while, and that she would be back soon. She put Elf on a leash and left. When she returned, Elf was not with her.

The only thing that was ever said about it was this: “I will not have a dog that snaps at its owner.”

We sat around the dinner table that night as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, though my father seemed unusually quiet.

I understood that we were not supposed to talk about it, but I was sick with sadness and confusion. I remembered the time when Elf was brand new, her eyes still closed tight, her body squat and furrowed with newborn puppy wrinkles. I was sitting inside the pen holding Elf on my lap, and somehow she slipped off. I picked her up, horrified at my clumsiness, and saw a tiny bubble of blood at the side of her nose.

After dinner that night, after my mother had finished the dishes and turned off the kitchen light, I said, “Mommy, do you think it’s all my fault? Do you think Elf was such a bad dog because of the time when I dropped her when she was a tiny puppy?”

“Maybe,” my mother said. “Maybe.”

cassat

Artwork: Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Mary Cassatt

Stories of My Mother: The End

17832-1367863315-WilliamWegman

My mother loved to tell the story of when I was sick with the chicken pox. I came downstairs in my pajamas, miserable with pain and itch, wretched with a high fever. I stood in the kitchen and cried.

Our beloved family dog Heidi had recently birthed a litter or eight tiny, squiggling black puppies. My father had built her a small pen in our basement, and filled it with old blankets, so she would have a place to birth and raise her pups.

When she heard my sobs, she left her pups in their basement pen and came up to see the situation for herself. My mother never stopped delighting in telling how Heidi nuzzled into me and began giving me gentle but insistent pushes towards the basement staircase. She was trying to herd me down the stairs, so I could join the rest of the babies that needed her.

wegman-artware-1

Heidi did love me best of our family of four, but I thought it was mighty generous of my mother to say so, and to delight in it, considering that she had done the lion’s share of the hard work of housebreaking, and training, and feeding and slogging the big dog inside and outside since the day we had brought her home. I was three years old then, and therefore instantly and deeply in love. I held the sleeping puppy for hours. I examined every square inch of her as she grew, so I would know her dog body as well as I could. Til the very end of her life, whenever I would sit on the floor in front of a heating vent in order to shake off winter’s bitter chill, she would lie down next to me, resting her head in my lap. I spread her ears out across my thigh and stroked them, and reveling in their unequaled softness.

I have no memory of the chicken pox incident myself, but I heard it so many times growing up that I have formed a clear picture of it – Heidi’s expression of alertness and concern, my flannel pajamas with faded yellow flowers all over them, so small on me that my 5-year-old belly showed in the space between the tops and the bottoms. My only memory of the chicken pox is watching my mother pour nearly a full box of cornstarch into a steaming hot bath and telling me that it would help with the terrible itching. It didn’t. She told me that I had an unusually bad case. In a state of scientific wonder, she decided to count the pox on my face one day, but she stopped just past the bridge of my nose, when she had already reached 100.

I was past the worst of it. The pox were scabbing over, and though I was still sick, I felt so much better than I had that I was filled with a kind of giddy exhilartion when I woke up that morning. I bound into the kitchen and told my mother that I was going to the basement to play with the puppies. She turned from the kitchen sink to face me, and told me that one of the puppies had died during the night. “Why,” I asked.

“You never know about these things,” my mother replied. “So many things can be wrong that we can’t even see.”

“Where is the puppy?” I wanted to know.

“It’s gone,” she said.

“Gone where?” I wanted to know.

She didn’t answer.

“Was it a boy, or a girl?”

“It was a boy.”

The next morning, I woke up a little earlier than usual. My mother stood in the kitchen, wrapping a tiny, still black thing in a sheet of newspaper.

“You’re up early,” she said. “Another puppy died last night.”

“I want to see it.”

She unwrapped a corner of the newspaper, and I could see the fat, adorable-looking puppy that I had held and played with the day before. It was completely limp, like a rag doll. But otherwise – perfect. “How do you know it’s dead?”

“Because I know,” my mother said.

William-Wegman-650x650

Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

Every night, another puppy died. My mother said that Weimaraners were special dogs. A highly pure German breed. We had intended to breed Heidi with a carefully selected male, but she had gotten knocked up in the back yard before my parents were sure that she was in heat. My mother explained that often times, when Weimaraners bred with other breeds of dogs, the puppies were not viable. It was a new word. Viable.

One puppy remained. A male. Each morning I woke up, and he was still alive. I studied him, trying to figure out what possible magic he possessed that allowed him to live. My parents found a young man who wanted to adopt him. My mother told me that he was going to come to our house in a couple of days and take the one remaining puppy to grow up and live with him.

“Are you sure he’ll be able to stay alive,” I asked. “Are you sure he’s viable?”

“I’m sure,” she said.

Now that I know the truth, I sometimes try to picture it. I wonder how my mother made her decisions about which one she would choose. I picture her carrying a wriggling puppy in her two hands, up the basement stairs and into our darkened kitchen. I see her plugging the drain, and running a sinkful of water. Or did she run the water in advance, I wonder. Warm, or cool. What goes through your mind when you are cradling new life in your hands, feeling that life drain away, watching for those last tiny bubbles of air to rise to the surface.

wegman

Photos: William Wegman

“A Girl Moves,” excerpt from the novel “Pushing the River”

moving-house

The call came from Marie one morning: “I need your help,” she said.  “I have no memory of how to do this. I have no idea how people move from one place to another.”

The decision that had begun with a gentle hand against a baby elephant’s trunk in far-off Asia had been made. John would remain in Boston to finish school, and Marie would return to Chicago. She would move into the top two rooms on the uppermost floor of Madeline’s house, and she would await the gathering storm.

Billie Rae, Marie’s mother, and Sienna, her baby sister, made it abundantly clear that this was thoroughly unnecessary, confounding, and furthermore, insulting. They steadfastly maintained that they had full control of the situation at hand.

Unwanted in the new life ahead, and leaving her old life behind, she would await the gathering storm.

Lonely_Highway
Madeline knew the low rumble of the U-Haul when it pulled up in front of the house, though her back was turned to the windows facing the street. She considered how many times she had helped her children move in, or out, since each of them had first left home. She was pretty sure the number was somewhere around 623 times, or so it certainly seemed to her. Still, she rued that her advancing years allowed her to do less and less; her legs now wobbled by the third flight of stairs, and she needed to put boxes down to rest for a moment all too often.

It had been decided that Marie would bring the majority of her and John’s possessions back with her, leaving him with a skeletal assortment of bare necessities as he focused on the grueling home stretch of his school. Still, Madeline was quite taken aback when Marie swung the U-Haul cargo doors open to reveal a van that was crammed completely full, every possible square inch consumed in what amounted to a breathtaking feat of engineering.

Reading Madeline’s thoughts on her face, Marie remarked, “Yeah. We had to pack it and re-pack it a few times.”

Marie had also brought their dog. Everyone had marveled since the first day Marie chose the impossibly tiny sleek brown puppy that she had managed to find the exact canine equivalent of herself, for Proust was relentlessly demanding, deeply affectionate, possessed of strong and generally instantly-formed impressions of all people and things in his path, somewhat unpredictable, and generally in-your-face with his intense and abiding love.

moving_box_with_dog.305165606_std

“Pushing the River,” NEW EXCERPT (yeah, HOORAY!)

IMG_0507It was the third time that mice had taken up residence here in the house.  On top of all the humans and their cats and dogs and friends that crowded into this here house, them little brown field mice found their way in again, too.

That first dog was a natural-born mouser.  By the time My Lady and the Husband even figured out they had a mouse problem at all, the dog was hard at work.  Inside.  Outside.  Didn’t matter where he was, he would make a sudden-like snap of his head, and before you knowed it he’d be licking his lips, the infernal rodent already swallowed up whole without so much as a trace.

That dog had been a squirrel-chaser from way back, but you always kinda wondered if he had any real seriousness about catching one, or if he was in it for the pure fun of the chase.  Well,  the day came — after many years of chasing he up and caught one, and that settled that.  It was like the taste of blood had lent newfound meaning to his life, and from then on the big, gentle beast was  forever on the lookout to up and kill any creature in his path that was not either a human or another dog neither.

My Lady might have worried about him swallowing all kind of mice, bones and claws and tails and all, cept for that time when he swallered up an entire roasting chicken they had left up on the kitchen counter to cool off for their family picnic.  When they come in later there was not so much as a spot of grease or lick of skin or any sign a-tall that the bird had ever existed.  The Husband had even surrounded the cooked-up bird with a sort-of barricade of forks and glasses and other kitchen things, every one of which stood right in its original place – a hedge of utensils surrounding nothing.  Well, they called up the animal doctor, and he asked them to remind him how much the dog weighed.  When they told him, he chuckled to hisself and said, you don’t need to worry a bit, cause that big boy won’t have any trouble with the likes of an 8-pound roasting chicken.  The whole thing became one of those stories that families like to tell over and over at get-togethers; but anyhow my Lady knew that no little teeny mouse would cause a digestive disturbance to the noble dog, or even a whole passel of them.

They counted eighteen mice that the dog chomped down that one summer, and that was just the ones they was around to catch him at.

2432680282_b9fed193e6_z

The second time them mice moved in, they was already on their second dog and the Husband was already the X.  But while the first dog had the Killer Instinct, the second dog was one of them kind that never met a single other creature that she didn’t want to befriend and love up, so when the new batch of mice migrated into the house, she’d go right on up to them and poke at them with her nose, and dance little dance-steps around them, and do any crazy thing she could think of to get them to play with her.

My Lady didn’t feel right about killing the same little creatures that the Boy and the Little One had as pets all them years, so she did her best to ignore the whole rodent situation for a good long time.  But once she and the Little One kept spotting them scuffling and skittering across the floors late at night, and all kinds of little holes were getting chewed in the bags lined up in the pantry, she decided she couldn’t ignore the dang things any longer.

She started out with the old-fashioned kind of mouse killer trap that’s been in existence as long as I have, the wooden things with the spring hinge where you put some kind of food that mice love to lure them in and then POW that hinge snaps down hard and kills ’em right fast.  Well, it took about 2 or 3 mornings of my Lady checking them traps, only to find the bait clean gone and the trap unsprung – kind of like the whole chicken incident with that first dog – when sure enough she done sprung the trap on her own fingers in the checking process, and even though I heared movie upon movie with all kinds of language I could never even dream of, I ain’t never heard nothing like what come out of her mouth, and next thing you know the whole dang package of traps she bought was tossed in the garbage.

Mouse

Hanging Out with D (#2)

51738207_911fc45db9_z

            This past weekend’s adventure with my foster grandson D: Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory.  D. and I actually did this same outing a number of months ago, which consisted mostly of him sleeping soundly in his stroller in front of numerous outdoor animals’ cages as well as in the fecund, heavy-aired, lush Conservatory.  It proved an invigorating walk for me against a backdrop of gorgeous park flora and exotic (if caged) fauna.  As for D, well, it reminded of the comedian who once quipped about the opera: “I love it.  You just can’t sleep like that at home.”

            Last weekend was a horse of a different color for D, who will mark the milestone of his first full year on Earth in just three weeks.  D is easygoing as babies come, but the wheels are turning all the time.  He is at the very beginning of understanding what developmental theorists call a “concept of mind,” meaning that he has a rudimentary understanding of himself as a being, a “self” with all kinds of thoughts and feelings and such.  What’s more, he also understands that those around him, those of us who talk and dress and feed and rock and sing and tickle and hold and love him – well, we, too, have minds.  

            It is a critical moment in infant development when they begin to point to stuff, for it is in this way that they demonstrate their desire to share minds – they point our attention to whatever it is that they’re focusing on, in order that we share the same focus, that we align our two minds in the same direction, and feel the deeply satisfying sense of sharing an experience.  Interestingly, the only other mammals who demonstrate an understanding of pointing are elephants (which was established pretty recently) and dogs, simply due to so many years of close proximity to humans and their inherent desire to communicate and please us.

4454613138_68f4529300_z

            Anyway. High falutin’ language aside,  D could not get enough of pointing to every single animal.  We would stroll over to a cage, I would say the name of the animal, and he would point.  He particularly loved scanning through the chimpanzees’ and apes’ habitats to seek out and point to each and every one he could find lolling in a high-up hammock, or swinging on a rope, or hiding in a dark, out-of-the-way corner.

            Babies learn by categorizing.  If you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that a very young child can recognize that a Great Dane and a Chihuahua are both dogs!  D isn’t quite there yet, but we have been working on animal sounds.  When I start to moo, or oink, or woof-woof, he gives me a special sidelong glance that says, “You’re weird; but I like it!”  D has known for weeks now what a quack-quack is.  When I say quack-quack, Dawson will crawl through all four rooms of my first floor until he finds the hideously gaudy stuffed animal that’s meant to resemble a duck.  Everything else, for the time being, is a woof-woof. 

            Really, a joyous little boy who’s scanning every inch of an animal habitat until he finds the giant, panting, pent-up, blazing-eyed jaguar so he can shoot up his arm, point his index finger right towards the big cat’s face and from deep in his belly grunt out a “WOOF WOOF!” makes for a wondrous day.

3455661119_371c69f073_z

             

“Recon” (cont.) excerpt from “Pushing the River”

IMG_0847

Creatures that’s been in pain much of they lives can go one way or the other, and that includes humans, and that includes pain of all kinds.  They either take on an everlasting meanness, living all the time like a coiled-up snake, just waiting for the next chance to strike out, aiming to hit hard.  Or they go the other direction entirely, taking on their own sense life’s troubles and hardness, and doing they best to be in the world in such a way as to ease the path for others.  That was Recon.

            None of them animal doctors could ever figure out why Recon got gimpy in her font leg in the first place, let alone why she got worse and worse.  My Lady trotted her all over creation trying to get an answer; but not so very different than with me, the doctors tsk-tsked and clucked their tongues and wagged their heads and knitted their brows and sent Recon back home.  Recon just went on about her business, all the time walking a bit slower, going a bit less far from My Lady’s side, never once complaining about the pain all them docs said she was most definitely suffering.

            Ever so often my Lady would go over to wherever Recon was resting her bones, and she’d put her own forehead right against the big dog’s, stroking both her ears and whispering that she was sorry.   They’d stay that way for a time, head to head, then my Lady would dab at her eyes and get on up.

            Recon still greeted every new day, and every person that ever walked through the front door of our house, like they was a dang miracle that she could not even believe her own good fortune to encounter.  When the Tumbleweed came for dinner and never left, and Marie left the Boy back in New York to move in and lay in wait for the imminent storm, and the giant-bellied, wide-eyed child parked herself on the couch with her gummy bears and her movie star TV shows, Recon treated the whole shebang like it was just more folks to share the pure joy of being on the planet.  Of course when the Little One came back, and finally the Boy, Recon was like a mama whose babies had all returned to the nest, wagging her whole body all the day long.

            Strange, though, that for some infernal reason when the little tiny infant was brought in and added to the mix, Recon started doing something she ain’t never did before.  When nobody was looking, she would go over to the couch, grab the corner of one of them fancy pillows in her mouth, gentle-like, then hump the dang pillow for all it was worth!

IMG_7595-1

“Recon,” excerpt from novel “Pushing the River”

5021516235_89fa1d52f2_z

It’s taken me near on my entire one hundred years to learn a thing or two about the creature known as a human being.  One of the things that has always been a perplexity to me is the whole notion of keeping animals inside the house and giving them the name of “pets.”  Both the Boy and the Little one went off to elementary at a school that was supposed to be special in science; and somehow that meant that every year they studied, and then brought home, some infernal thing or other to add to the general household menagerie.  First year, the science project was a teeny little guppy fish swimming around inside of a sawed-off plastic coke bottle.  Next thing you know that one teeny fish was swimming around with a whole passel of even teenier little ones, so small you had to look real close to even see them and make sure they was real.  That’s how the Boy ended up raising guppies for a time, ‘cept it turns out they ain’t nothing to do for the “raising” save wait a bit for some more teeny ones to show up in the coke bottle and then scoop them up and take them on over to the local pet store.

            Next year it was meal worms.  Two maggot-y looking things came home from the school in an old peanut butter jar that was half full of oatmeal.  They was just about the same color as the oatmeal too, and would stay buried way deep down except for once or twice a day when the Boy and the Little One would shake the jar around just a tad til they could see them bugs wiggling and waggling, and the kiddies would be all excited.  Course how long do you suppose anyone can stay excited about a couple of maggots even if they got a fancy name, and the answer is not very gosh darn long.  Soon enough, the kiddies more or less forgot about them, and my Lady tried to remember to check in on them once in a while just to see if they had died yet and she could throw them and their oatmeal home on out.  Well, one day, sure enough she did check and was surprised and amazed to find that they wasn’t any meal worms at all, nor their carcasses, but two big, dark beetles.  Course this led to all kinds of hoopla and whoop-de-doo until it dawned on somebody to consider what the heck do you do with two bugs in a jar of oatmeal.  Everyone was still pondering on this when the bugs up and died because they had come to the end of their time.

            The last year of the science project was the year everyone was most excited about, the kiddies talked about it for years, from the time they started at the school as kindy-gardeners until they finished up after the fifth grade.  Hermit crabs. 

14327777_4117471a12_z

            Maybe I just can’t wrap my head around anything that doesn’t have warmth running through it, but somehow the hermit crab struck me as the most useless of all the so-called pets.  Scritch scratch scritch scratch all the night long.  And if you ask me he smelled funny.  Day after day the Boy would take the hermit crab out and hold him in the palm of his hand, and the Little One would hold her breath and wait for the creature to do something magical and wondrous, but the scoundrel would just sit there, and they put it on back in its home after a time, trying hard to act like they wasn’t disappointed.  One day they got the idea to put the crab down on the floor, and lo and behold, the creature skedaddled across the carpet like it had been shot from a cannon.  The kiddies whooped and hollered and had their friends come over to witness the miraculous spectacle.  Well, it seemed no more than a blink of an eye that the crab up and died, and I swear he did it out of pure spite.  I never trusted him.

            Of course there was a whole bunch of cats and dogs around here, too.  I never paid them much heed, until this last one that came into the house as a little rescued puppy named Recon.  The husband was ancient history, the kiddies was about to scatter, and all the other animals had died off by then.  I knew my Lady needed company, and she needed it bad.

            Creatures that’s been in pain much of they lives can go one way or the other, and that includes humans, and that includes pain of all kinds.  They either take on an everlasting meanness, living all the time like a coiled-up snake, just waiting for the next chance to strike out, aiming to hit hard.  Or they go the other direction entirely, taking on their own sense of life’s troubles and hardness, and doing they best to be in the world in such a way as to ease the path for others.  That was Recon.

IMG_0852

Any Tuesday

6990257300_6252974b9f_z

Accustomed to waking up between 6:30 and 7:00 am, I was in a profoundly deep slumber when my dog Scout whimpered quietly at my bedside around 6:00, letting me know that she could not wait any longer to go out.   I was also deep into a dream, a dream of such intense aching feeling that fully awake and caffeinated as I have been for two and a half hours now, a veil of sad wistfulness remains heavily between me and a rain-drenched, beautiful morning.

Last night, a friend told me that she feels the bottom has been hacked off the hour glass of her life, and that her remaining time is hemorrhaging out, giving her an ever-increasing sense of urgency that she must do everything in her power to ensure that those she most loves in the world will be safe, and loved, after she is gone.

Ah, if only this were possible.

I watched her sob as she recognized that we can love powerfully, ferociously even, but in no way is this a guarantee of anything at all, except that we have done our very best — lived, and loved our very best.

 And that must be enough.

5946912815_2c809ef515_z

A Report on the Natural World, 6/24/13

PicsArt_1372086089467

Scout is the third dog that I have had in my adult life; thereby, I am on my 24th year of having a ready-made reason to get outside every morning.  We go to the large park at the corner of my block most days.  When it is below zero, my fellow dog owners and I bitch and moan and compare the relative warmth of our boots.  When it is well above 90, we bitch and moan and say that we really must be getting home, pretending that it is our dogs who can’t stand the heat.

Scout is a meanderer. I call her the Ferdinand of dogs, as in the children’s book where the ferocious-seeming bull wants nothing more than to sit in the field, and smell the flowers.  Scout wanders the park each morning, slowly, thoroughly, nose to the ground, not willing to miss one single thing that might be infinitesimally different from the day before.

Each spring, we experience an alarming wave of birds’ nests falling from their tree homes, or perhaps they have been helped along by squirrels, cats, raccoons, possums – any of the variety of wildlife we have.  Each year, for a time, our parks, yards, sidewalks are littered with tiny, dead baby birds.  Some are brand newly hatched from their shells, others are feathered and nearly fledged, one hair’s breath away from spreading their wings and living a life.

Considering that we have experienced an influx of fox and coyote – surprising considering that we live within spitting distance of the third largest city in the United States – I am always taken aback that the bird bodies are there at all, and so many.

A nest fell from one of the tallest trees in the corner park, and the carcass lay right against the trunk.  The first morning Scout and I came upon it, the parents mounted a riotous, all-out demonstration of their protective agony, complete with shrieking, wing-flapping, diving and swooping.  Each morning Scout nosed the baby gently.  We witnessed the body progress from its state of newly-fallen perfection, to being covered and consumed by teeming maggots, to becoming strewn bones and feather, until the morning when there was no remaining trace whatsoever.

It has been more than two weeks since we found the baby bird, more than a week since there has been any remaining sign of its life.  Still, every morning the parents shriek and wail.  Every morning they swoop down and peck the back of my very confused, 87-pound yellow lab.  They follow us part of the way home.

Do animals understand death?

Do we?

IMG_0573