While in the thrift store the other day looking for a wooden chair to paint and donate for a “chair”-ity auction upcoming, I was thumbing through picture frames to find any that I could use. I came across a frame with its three pictures of a Black Lab and his human. At home, I took off the back to see if there was any writing on the backs of the pictures as to when they were taken or what the dog’s name is but found nothing.
What strikes me about the framed dog is not that it’s a Black Lab or that it appears to be a hunting dog as well as the dog in his younger days as well as old. What struck me is that someone must have passed away nearby here, the family came in and cleaned out his stuff, and then donated all the stuff they didn’t want to keep to the thrift store, which is something typically done and not strange in and of itself.
What bothers me is that the dog was obviously important to the hunter to have his favourite dog hung so nicely on his wall. The framing might have been a gift given that way to him. But the family didn’t bother taking out the pictures to keep in a photo album of the deceased with his beloved dog and donating just an empty frame; instead, they just packed up someone else’s fond memories, personal photos and all, and left them at the good-will. Why? Because it’s just Grandpa’s old dog that probably died ten or twenty years ago? Or at least as long ago as when they still developed film on Kodak paper?
Ancestry.com lets you track your family tree of humans so we can remember people we never met but who were part of our family. Why don’t they have a pet version so we can gaze back over our lives and remember all of the wonderful animals that we have loved and who have loved us unconditionally in return? Will someone please invent that for me? I would include all of the pets I have lived with in my life, and believe me, it’s quite a few.
In the meantime, the picture of The Beloved Dog will sit next to my Big Black Dog Studio sign as a shrine to beloved pets everywhere that enrich our lives for a time, but who pass on and often get forgotten as time rolls on. That seems to me to just be not right. Our pets help make us who we are just as much (and sometimes more) than the people in our lives. I personally think that we learn much more about ourselves reflected through our pets than we even know.
All of my pets have always been rescues, so I adopted poor, cast-off Beloved in spirit, and he can watch over Nemo like an adopted ancestor, one beloved Big Black Dog to another. I don’t need to know the specifics of Lovey’s life; all that’s important for me to know is that he once meant a lot to someone, so therefore, he now means a lot to me.
(reprinted from my other blog at http://bigblackdogstudio.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/shrine-of-the-black-dog/)