We don’t know whether or not he’s dead, but we all miss Bushington, so we, after a family meeting in the basement, decide to have a memorial service in the backyard. We go to the supermarket (around the corner) to buy flowers and bring them to the backyard. Then, Mommy and Daddy light a memorial candle and we take a moment of silence for Bushington. Daddy says a short prayer.
Then, we talk about all the memories of Bushington: The PDA, the way he escaped his collar, the mail from the graduate schools, Bushington getting a taxi to the airport. We talk about the mischief Bushington got into, but then we talk about what we miss most about Bushington. We share one at a time:
Sean says he liked how Bushington forgave Sean after Bushington got run over by a car. Sean says even though Bushington was in pain, Bushington still cuddled with Sean that night and it comforted Sean, who was scared.
Roberta says she got lonely at night, too. She has a boyfriend and they hug, but Bushington would always cuddle with her throughout the night and lick her tears. He’d also give her hugs when she felt lonely.
Bob also says he missed cuddling with Bushington. Bob doesn’t have a girlfriend and it gets lonely at night, but Bushington always filled the gap by coming to Bob’s bed.
Mommy and Daddy also said they liked cuddling with Bushington, when the other one wasn’t there. The family kept talking and even though he had the power of intense listening, everyone missed cuddling with Bushington and making Bushington give them a hug.
Then we start talking to each other and wonder why we cant just give each other hugs. So we do. Everyone hugs, cries, and we feel better. Then, Bob says he sees something in the corner of his eye in the bushes. Bob thinks it’s Bushington, but he isn’t sure, but Daddy goes inside anyway and gets something Daddy knows Bushington cares about: Bushington’s PDA.
Daddy walks around calling for Bushington, waving Bushington’s PDA around like a NASCAR referee waving a checkered flag. Everyone listens, but no one hears or sees anything. Bob says it could have just been his imagination. It had to be. Bushington’s dead.
“It’s sad, but they never found the ashes . . .” Sean said.
We look at each other, like hares in headlights.
Then Daddy says, “Come on, guys. He was euthanized, there’s no way . . .” But then he remembers tying up Bushington in the office and coming back to find Bushington’d Houdinied his way out. But faking a hypodermic needle? It seemed impossible . . But it is Bushington.
So the family talks about it and we decide to go back to the vet. The secretary is nice. Her name’s Barbara. We ask her to go through each step of euthanasia or euthanasing, or whatever it’s called. She smiles, sighes, and tells us the process. She says we’ll need hugs afterwards.
The secretary says (not verbatim) Initially, the family is consulted and the dog’s vitals (breathing, heart rate, joint movement, etc.) is examined. Then, the owner(s) are given the diagnosis(es), and asked to make a decision (and given as much time as desired). Then, if the decision is made to do surgery, I schedule the surgery. If the decision is made to give the animal prescriptions, prescriptions are given and available at normal pharmacies (like Walmart). If the decision is made to euthanize, the family is asked if they want to be in the room or not (which is respected), the needle is prepared, the animal’s skin is cleaned, the family is told the shot will be given, and the shot is administered.
The family is then given time to cry/grieve, etc. The animal corpse is then shipped to “Rainbow Bridge Crematorium,” through registered mail.
“Registered mail, but that means . . .”
“Please let me finish, Sir,” the secretary says.
She says “Rainbow Bridge Crematorium” then puts the remains of a group of dogs into the Furnace or puts the dogs individually into the Furnace, depending on the owners’ wishes. Then, the grouped dogs (the dogs cremated together) are buried in Pooch Cemetery by “Rainbow Bridge Crematorium,” or the ashes are shipped back to us in an urn through registered mail. In your case, Bushington’s ashes were put in an urn. Everything went according to plan until the United States Post Office , due to budget cuts, lost Bushington’s ashes or temporarily misplaced them (that’s how they prefer to say it). So, unless a dog that looks exactly like Bushington was euthanized here, cremated there, or somehow came back to life, he’s dead, just lost in the mail.
With any other dog, our family would have accepted that, but this is Bushington, so we start driving to the United States Post Office.
We arrive and the line, with social distancing, is five blocks. Budget cuts. The secretary gave us Bushington’s Tracking Number, though. So, we wait, talk, hug, but keep track of this number. A snail traveling across a fish tank would go faster than this line. Then, Bob tells us he needs the restroom. Great. So, since he only has to pee, we decide he should go behind a few trees.
We get to the front of the line. There’s an elderly white man who’s balding behind the counter. The old man asks how he can help us.
Daddy tells him the United States Postal Service has lost Bushington’s ashes, gives the old man the tracking number, and Daddy asks him to find Bushington. The old man laughs:
“I’m the only one working here. The other employees were laid off and you think I can find . . .? Wow!” the old man says.
Our family looks at each other. We spent three hours waiting for this.
“So, there’s no way to track this package or find it?” Daddy asks.
The old man sighs and says, “Well, there was before the budget cuts from the government. I mean if you want, I can put in a search request, but with how things are going, that’ll take at least six months.”
Mommy and Daddy fill out the forms, which takes half-an-hour, and we leave. We’ll just have to wait. But Bob still remembers what he saw from the corner of his eye and it wasn’t a squirrel.