That autumn we knocked down the old barn foundation I asked the man with the backhoe to dig a grave in the
center of a huge patch of tiger lilies.
This was in case Annie died over winter. She was 15 years old and all who met the aged collie remarked she
“must have seen better days.”
During the heat of summer, the dogs loved to burrow in the backyard bed of lilies to keep cool. They tunneled
through the thick tangle that grew all around Carl Ebert’s grave.
As the story is told, Carl committed suicide back in the 1940’s, so he couldn’t be buried in the churchyard
cemetery next door. A crude cement marker bears his name in a scrawl that looks like a finger was used to inscribe
it. Encircling the deceased is a decades-worth of dead pets. Popsicle-stick markers bear names like “Squeak” and
“Max” and “Rosie.”
It took three hours on a winter night to bury Annie. We piled straw and lit fires atop the earth to get our shovels
through frozen ground.
Father and son – backs ramrod straight — carried the collie through knee-deep snow. I followed in their boot
steps, my flashlight shining down the hill.
The clanking of shovels on hard ground echoed through the woods and neighborhood dogs began to howl.
They kept it up for quite some time.
“See how they know,” I said
“Yeah, right. Dogs don’t know,” the son said.
“Dogs know,” the father answered.
I like to think Carl would appreciate the fact we’ve turned him into St. Francis of Assisi of the backyard.
And Annie, as do all collies, will know a lost soul when she sees one.
Please, old girl, help Carl find his way home.