By Patrick Hemingway Adams
It all started when my allegedly half-coyote dog with one blue eye jumped out of a two storey window and ran along the roof until he reached the street traffic. He saw 3 cross-country moves and 8 girlfriends, but he likely didn’t see the car that hit him.
I got there in time to wrap him in a truck blanket, when coincidentally, a friend was driving by at just the opportune time to spot me holding a limp dog in the opposite lane of travel. I scrambled into her car and we sped towards the vet’s office. I tried to get her to run the red lights, but she couldn’t. She’d known the dog for years, now bleeding on her seats. It didn’t matter in the end, he had died in the road but sometimes you gotta go through the motions.
The pup, aptly named “Ghost,” wasn’t a bird dog or even a hunting dog, but if he could have gone out doing what he loved most, it would have been wet-nosing girls in miniskirts at house parties. I used to set him loose and go introduce myself to whichever gal he ended up in the lap of.
I dug a hole to bury him under a shade tree next to the creek. A couple friends showed up to help me dig. My Dad appeared with a bottle of bourbon; just what happened to be sitting on the counter. It was the Bulleit brand bourbon with an orange label, not unlike hunter’s orange. We passed the bottle around and I poured some in the hole. That’s just what you do.
Following a battle, Alexander’s Macedonian led army would build tall funeral pyres, set them alight, and shout the names of their fallen at the sky so that they may never be forgotten. That’s in the ballpark for a good dog, but not quite fitting. I’ve never fought a war in sandals.
Instead, I adopted the idea of gifting a dead dog whiskey bottle to smooth over the hard part, just like the one that was given to me.
The Irish used to like to keep a buddy’s body for an extra night of drinking with the boys, even after expiry. Maybe this is like that. One big fat finger in the devil’s face as we send them on to the land of perpetual spring.
Over the years, we’d see more dogs go to Valhalla. I’d buy a bottle of the orange label and present it with my assertion that the deceased was currently sitting under the big table in the grand hall, eating venison and drinking beer with the other fallen while they wait for Odin to tell them it’s time to go fuck up the ice giants.
It ain’t much, but it beats a card full of condolences.
The old time Zulus used to break the hip or femur of an enfeebled elder and leave them for the hyenas. This was considered somewhat sacred, as the animals were thought to embody the spirits of their ancestors. That’s pretty hardcore.
I prefer my way. Doesn’t matter how Fido went out, he’s gone on home for good now. So we pour some out and drink the rest.
It’s not like pouring a drink in a Japanese restaurant; you’re allowed to do it yourself. At least, that’s the ruling I’m going to make as I head out to the liquor store today, ready to go through the motions on behalf of myself.
There’s so little we can do to affect fate, but take some comfort in the fact that ‘dead dog whiskey’ is easy to find and almost always on sale.