Saturday, May 30, 2009
My young Irish Setter,still less than a year old, was across the tracks near the Pool grain elevator. I didn't know he was there. It was a favorite spot for a dog because there were lots of rats,a focus of interest rather than food,around the elevator annex. He was still young enough that he lacked savvy, and had separation anxiety in new situations. I first noticed him when the freight train was standing, waiting for orders at the platform. I heard the freight start to move with that characteristic squeak of axles mobilizing, and looked under the box car that began moving at a slow walk pace.I could see Rusty trying cross the tracks under the box car.He made several tentative passes and then pulled back. I yelled at him to go back to no avail and as he tried to slip under the moving boxcar to the platform where I was standing, he was caught by a rear wheel in his midsection. I watched in horror as each wheel of a long train passed over his body. Each boxcar and the caboose.I ran into the kitchen where my mother was. She comforted me. BMc, the Pool elevator operator and my dad stayed outside after the freight train pulled away. Then my dad came in the station and said, " You have to pick up your dog and bury him." My mother and BMc said, " he can't or shouldn't do that!" My dad said I had to do it, it was the only way. So, I picked up the two parts of my dog and put him in the wheelbarrow. I went about 500 yards down the right-of-way and buried him near the tracks. I'm not sure what my dad was thinking or why, but then I'm not sure that he was wrong. I guess no matter what, we have to face our grief head on. We cannot sanitize the events of our lives. Doing what I did probably allowed me to participate both in the life and the death of something I loved. At fifteen I suddenly took a further step towards becoming a big boy. I never had another dog till much later in life. Beside the tracks, on the main line, with 10 or 15 trains a day, is not the place to have a dog. I think , in retrospect, I'm grateful to my father.