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Caesar's Last Ride

A Firsthand Account of Laying a Beloved Pet to Rest

The best place to bury a dog is in the heart of his master–Ben Hur Lampman

I waited alone in the fluorescent lit examination room at the VCA North Coast Animal Hospital in Encinitas. Just minutes before, my small but once mighty Miniature Pinscher, Caesar, had succumbed to complications of heart disease and epilepsy. He just slipped away into the night.

The door abruptly opened. One of the vet techs, leaned in. "Mr. Davi, had you considered what type of 'arrangements' you might like for Caesar?"  Sensing my anguish, she paused and gently said, "well, why don’t we just put things 'on hold' for right now until you’ve had a chance to decide what’s best." Before leaving the room, she left Caesar’s collar on the counter–so I could take it home . . .

 

   
Caesar
 

Many of us are so busy loving our pets that when illness takes them away from us, we are left emotionally unprepared to plan for their final arrangements. Caesar’s sudden death blindsided me.

Several days later, I stopped back at the pet hospital. I wanted to make sure that Caesar's body was still there. They checked their online records. It indicated a ‘hold.’ A tech volunteered to go ‘downstairs’ to conduct a visual confirmation. I saw the elevator coming back up to the lobby. "He’s there," he said. . .

My family and I decided that we wanted a place where we could visit Caesar–a place that made mention of his name and his time on earth. The VCA staff gave us a referral to the San Diego Pet Memorial Park. The park is a peaceful five acre dell nestled in San Diego’s Carroll Canyon. In operation since 1962, it has become a haven for many animals indigenous to San Diego. Deer, rabbits, quail and doves are said to sometimes be seen while visiting.

After a tour, I selected a spot for Caesar not far from the canopy of oak and cypress trees that stand guard nearby.  Burial was arranged for the following Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at noon.

As I arrived home, I received a call from the pet hospital. "Mr. Davi, we just wanted to let you know that Caesar was picked up at 2:00 p.m. today–just a few minutes ago. He’s on his way." Caesar’s last ride–I wistfully thought . . .

The day of Caesar’s funeral was blustery and grey. I headed to the tiny Chapel of God’s Creatures. I caught a glimpse of Miguel readying the plot and Abraham wheeling Caesar’s crème-colored casket on a purple velvet-draped cart down the slender path that led to the candle-lit chapel. Caesar's casket was placed on a simple altar. I was waiting outside just a few feet away. Abraham came over to offer his condolences. "Please take as long as you like with Caesar. Miguel and I will be waiting nearby when you are ready."

I swallowed hard and stepped inside. A lite potpourri scent perfumed the little parlor. My eyes were instantly drawn to Caesar’s favorite little green mohair blanket that covered him in his repose. I ever so softly stroked Caesar's head and neck as he laid peacefully on a blue satin pillow.  I kneeled there for some time sobbing quietly.

Abraham rejoined me in the chapel. He began to slowly close and seal the casket. After placing fresh flowers on top, he gently slid the coffin back onto the velvet-draped cart. We walked together in procession to the grave site. When we arrived, Miguel and Abraham fastened pulleys under the coffin and carefully lowered it into the ground. They invited me to place the first shovel full of dirt into the grave.  Working quickly, they covered the nearly eight foot rectangular hole. A temporary marker was inserted to identify the spot until the permanent gravestone was completed in late March. The marker reads:

CAESAR

2-1-93 ~ 2-2-06

Beloved Pet & Friend  

By Anthony D. 


 

 
 
Revised July 6, 2006     |     Printer Friendly Version

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