Once again, I am in Massachusetts, but this time it is for the memorial service for my dear brother-in-law, Peter.
We are all, each in our own way, grieving the loss of this wonderful man. Among those grieving is his dog, Julie.
Julie was by Peter's side night and day. She would join him on his daily trips to the post office and as he raised the flag at the start of every day and lowered it at sunset. She saw the changes coming as the cancer weakened him. He depended on the walker, and the flag finally flew night and day. Someone else picked up the mail.
Eventually, Peter spent most of his time in bed and no longer came down to the first floor. Julie stayed by his side. When he died, my sister and Julie stayed with Peter for a while so they could both absorb the fact that he was gone.
Peter was Julie's most important person. It would have been too much if he had just disappeared. She was allowed to be there for the dying process. She is sad, but somehow she understands that he did not just desert her. He is dead. The life that was his is gone. She knows that.
You can tell she is grieving. You only have to look at her ears and the expression in her eyes. She is acting differently. She is shifting her attention to the one that Peter left behind. She is assuming the responsibility of watching over and protecting my sister now that Peter is no longer there to do it. Julie was Peter's dog -- but Peter is gone.
It would be easy to ignore the grieving of a dog when we are in the middle of our own grieving. But their pain is real and they need some extra attention and our time. They are suffering in their own way. Their world has totally changed. They do not know why. At this same time, Peter's son and daughter-in-law lost their beloved dog, Max, at the age of 15. That family is grieving. The other, younger dog, in the family is grieving. After Max was gone, Celtie spent a few days looking around the house for her big buddy. The dynamics of that household have changed. Celtie is grieving.
Dogs have feelings. They suffer. Imagine their suffering when their best friend just disappears. It is so important to include them in the dying and in the grieving. They need extra time, attention, understanding and love.
High School Rodeo
The High School Rodeo begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Payson Event Center. This is the first rodeo of the 2005-2006 high school rodeo season.
High school students will compete in rodeos throughout Arizona in the coming months. Among the events they will participate in are barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, bull riding, bronc riding and team roping.
Those competing from Payson High School are: Amanda Haworth, Jason Lister, Trevor Haught, Lacy Riggins, Weston Murray, Logan Freckal and Candace Bullard.
You may have seen Amanda, a freshman, compete in the local gymkhanas. She will compete in barrel racing and pole bending. She also qualified to compete at West World in Scottsdale during the 4-H finals in October.
Jason Lister is new at the rodeo game but is doing well enough in the bareback events to qualify. He is always hoping to stay on for that endless 8 seconds. He is a freshman at Payson High School.
The students have been working very hard, and this is a monumental occasion for them. The rodeo is free. Come and cheer them on.
Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by surface mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.