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The Red Blanket

by K.S. Mueller

We covered Hector's stiff body with the red blanket that we kept in the basement. I carefully tucked all the corners underneath his body while we decided what to do with this big dog carcass.

Some time later, we decided it would be a good idea to let Hobie sniff, inspect and see Hector so he'd understand his pal was gone. I gingerly lifted the blanket and let Hobie check out Hector's stillness, as I continued to cry, uncontrollably.

Then the most extraordinary thing happened. I had gone to another part of the house, trying to keep myself busy, and I didn't see this occur, but Gil was right there and saw the whole thing. The arthritic Hobie, who during the preceding few years had great difficulty going up and down stairs, took hold of one corner of the red blanket in his mouth. He un-tucked its corners from under Hector's body and, within what seemed like only a minute, he pulled that entire heavy red blanket completely off Hector.

He took the weighty bolt of synthetic wool in his teeth and carried it up the basement stairs, dragged it across the living room, through the dining/music room, through the kitchen, out the sliding door, across the deck, down the back stairs and into the yard, where he then laid down and proceeded to chew on the blanket.

Gil attempted to take video of this incredible moment, but alas, funny how things work out, the camera was broken. Gil and Hobie shared this moment. I never saw a thing until Gil hollered for me to come quickly, and by that time Hobie was already in the yard with the blanket.

I got the idea immediately – he had carried it there himself, but what I didn't know was that he didn't go out the basement door (right beside Hector's body), no, he carried the blanket like a talisman over hill and dale.

We will never understand the great things that dogs and cats know that people do not; their sixth, seventh and eighth senses. Perhaps Hobie thought the blanket was smothering Hector and by pulling it off, Hector would live. Perhaps Hobie thought the blanket contained Hector's spirit, and he brought it into the back yard to bring his pal back to life, or to commune with the spirit.

Perhaps, he just liked the smell of the blanket. Dogs have senses we humans do not use, and do not understand.

Cats are no exception. A little while later, we humans carried Hector's body to the back yard, using the pink dog bed like a stretcher, and we had a little "funeral".

Gil videotaped the funeral, having somehow gotten the camera to function. After we put the body into the hole in the ground, something else amazing happened.

All three cats, and Hobie, came to the gravesite. Each of the cats jumped into the hole and walked on Hector's body and smelled him, individually. Then, each cat came out of the hole, and laid down in various places near the grave.

Hobie went to step into the grave, but we were concerned about his arthritis so made him stop. We let him smell Hector from the edge. Hobie lay down beside me as I sobbed a few words about how great Hector was, and how he made us laugh every single day.

The other humans present said a word or two, then we each tossed some dirt into the grave. Before it was covered up again, and for as long as it took to put the ground back together, Hobie and the cats lay in a circle beside the grave and watched.

It was August 28, 2011. Hurricane Irene, had done zero damage to the Cape and minimal damage to central Mass. A limb or two was down in the yard. The power, though, was out for 6 days, a symbolic reminder that the light of our lives had been suddenly and unfairly snuffed out.

(An excerpt from K.S. Mueller's Everything is a Song)

Photographs by K.S. Mueller

K.S. Mueller writes short stories about dogs, cats and other topics during her spare time from her "real job" as a travel executive.

Mueller lives part-time in North Eastham and the rest of the time in the farm country of central Massachusetts, with her significant other, Gil, their three dogs, Hobie, Charlie Brown and 3-legged Cooper; and three cats: Cali, Tux and Newman.

Mueller has shared her life with dozens of dogs and cats since childhood, and volunteers for several animal-related non-profit organizations, including the Eastham Dog Owners Association, where she is a member of their board of directors.

In 2010, she discovered a box of letters written by her late parents during WWII, and is currently publishing those letters in a three-volume biography of the Mueller family.

Visit her web sites at: ,,