The seasonal road narrowed into a small two track, and that ultimately petered out. I had decided to explore new areas of the Allegan Forest, and this looked like as good a place as any to step out of the car and take a look around.
When the loggers cut the trees down, they pull the stumps out by the roots. The DNR stacks these rooty stumps up to make barriers – mostly for cars but you can’t walk or climb over them either. So when I got out of the car I walked around to the end of the barrier, and turning around I saw two large dog food bags.
At first I thought that someone had just dumped some garbage here – but then I noted that one of the bags was carefully taped shut with duct tape. The other bag looked like it had never been opened, but the seam at the end of the bag had come apart, and it looked like animals had ripped it up, getting at the food.
I gave the taped shut bag a squeeze, and felt the intact kibble still in it. I stood there, momentarily perplexed, and then an idea stole upon me. “Look for the bones….”
Turning – I saw it. The dug out grave. Dog bones laying in the sand, torn loose from the plastic in which they were carefully wrapped. The grave – maybe a foot or so deep – wasn’t enough to keep out the coyotes, foxes, or raccoons…
I can only guess at the grief of the dog owner. He had a good stock of food on hand, so no doubt expected the dog to live a good while longer. And in leaving the bags of food behind, he was committing an ancient and uniquely human act. For as long as we have walked the earth, humans have left burial offerings – part sacrifice to the unknown, part gift to the departed, to aid them in their journey forward. Whether its building a pyramid full of luxuries, or just leaving a couple of bags of dog food with a deceased pet – it’s a tradition as old as our species.