My writing exercise last week had us exploring our experience with loss and grief. For me, it all started with two pets. My first pet was a cat. She was mine. She was dark black and full of love. Her dark coat was the reason I named her Midnight. Queenie, on the other hand, was a family dog, a beagle.
Tuesday, I wrote about Midnight. Today I will write the second part – about Queenie.
I will warn you, this could be triggering for some people.
Part Two, Queenie
I grew up in the country as many of my longtime followers know. Life was different there. We did not have quick and ready access to grocery stores nor did we have an abundance of money to purchase from the store. This meant we raised a large garden and the vegetables were put away (canned in Ball canning jars) for the winter months. Potatoes were harvested and stored in a dark cellar and used throughout the winter. Nothing was wasted.
Our streams were full of rainbow and brown trout, and fishing was also a way of life as was hunting. People hunted for food rather than sport and the abundance of the land and what it provided was highly revered.
My Dad hunted and we ate what was gathered. It was a way of life. When we moved into town, there was less open land in which to hunt. I think my father had a vision of raising hunting dogs. I loved my father a great deal, but often his plans were, well, let’s say flawed, often never coming to fruition.
The house we rented was a small three bedroom built in 1932. There was an alleyway that ran behind the street. The back yard had a deep downward slope. There was a coal chute on the side where coal was delivered and dropped directly into a small basement room off the furnace. Alongside the back yard was a small half-wall made from concrete block. We only had neighbors on one side of us and the lots were substantial.
I am not sure when or where Dad got the beagles, but King and Queenie lived in a chainlink pen in the back yard with a cozy dog house. I cannot even recall how long we had them, but eventually, Queenie had a litter of pups. I can still remember how cute they were. Dad did not want us to get too attached to them so we did not get to play with them or handle them much. But we all loved them dearly.
I am fuzzy on the details, but one morning, Dad got up for work and went out back to feed the dogs as was his routine. He found Queenie and all the puppies dead. They had been poisoned. I am also not sure if King was there or even is King was our dog. He may have been borrowed for breeding. I just do not remember.
What I do remember was this was the second time I realized just how cruel people could be. I have often wondered what possessed someone to come into our yard under the cloak of darkness and purposefully poison the dogs. It is possible Queenie was poisoned and the poison passed through her milk to the pups, but that is supposition on my part. All I know for sure, was that it was an intentional act.
Dad would not let us see the dogs. I think he tried to protect us from the heartache he felt when he saw them. We would not have another dog until I was in junior high school and my boyfriend gave me a Cocker Spaniel my mother named Whiskey, because he was the color of a nice aged whiskey.
Thankfully, we had no other horrendous stories associated with our pets. Two was too many. Far too many.