Yesterday I took the dogs with me to the cemetery. I had never taken them before. I stood at Aaron’s grave and fell into my own thoughts. After a few minutes I looked up and took stock of the dogs. Harry was being his usual Terrier self, looking in every direction on guard duty. But Charlie, our mini-Labradoodle, was sitting beside me at the foot of the grave, staring at the ground in a quiet repose.
He stayed next to me and waited. It was as if he sensed the meaning of where we were. It was as if he was paying respects.
We won Charlie four months after Aaron died. We had gone to an auction in Lancaster County that benefits the Clinic for Special Children, where Aaron had received care. We had intended to buy a quilt, or a piece of furniture, something to add to our house while we contributed to the clinic. Instead we discovered that local breeders had donated two puppies for auction.
Olivia fell for that little labradoodle, and I was tasked with winning him at auction, never having bid in one in my life. Later, after he was ours, we looked at his paperwork: born on May 23, 2011. It was the very day we had buried Aaron.
As he sat with me, I wondered if my perception that he felt a connection to the grave was imagined. Perhaps I needed to create this, to ascribe meaning to Charlie’s demeanor when it probably was nothing more than happenstance. But many people believe dogs and other animals have spiritual lives, so I suppose its possible that on some level, Charlie understood.
Afterward I took them to Pastorius Park and Charlie swam in the pond and romped on the grass. It was a good day to be a dog.