|Posted on March 13, 2016 at 5:35 PM|
Sunday, March 13, 2016, was the 74th anniversary of the Army’s creating the K-9 Corps. Moments after I posted that little fact on my Facebook page, a friend asked if I wanted to go to a pet cemetery to pay tribute to some K-9 veterans.
Despite a cold drizzle on my end of town, I accepted the invitation. The pet cemetery is on the other side of town, across from the airport.
What sad shape the cemetery is in. Burials have been taking place since the late 1930s. Think the oldest I found was from 1938. “Gone but not forgotten” was inscribed on many markers. Sadly, these close friends are forgotten. And so is the cemetery.
Rain had fallen harder on that side of town and the leaf-covered ground was soggy. A lake had formed in one area. At first I thought it was natural, but my friend told me about a marker in the middle of the lake.
Markers are off their bases. Some of tilted. The back of the cemetery is eroded away and some markers have fallen down the hill and into the creek below. Perhaps some of the markers had help, my friend and I decided.
Among the graves was that of Army Sgt. Fleabite Smith. He served during World War II and came home to live out a normal life. We found another Army veteran – Muscles. And couldn’t forget Cpl. Pat Sheets, U.S.M.C.
One marker told us the dog was registered with the American Kennel Club. A few others told of the dogs’ championship lines. Or his history in greyhound racing. One marker paid tribute to two cats and a bird. Another honored two pet ducks.
I also saw a lot of decay as I sloshed my way through the grounds. Overgrown bushes. Fallen trees, and they looked like they were rotted. My friend carried a battery-powered saw and did a little sawing but didn’t get very far until the battery wore down. He pointed to a pile of cut wood – “I cut it and dragged it over there,” he said.
A crocus bud was coming out. Nearby daffodils were sporting buds. How long had those flowers been there? Fifty years? Oh, here’s a marker for a dog of a friend. The owner is no longer with us. Do I care for that little plot?
These pals, buddies, Inky Dinks, Patty Anns, Gigis, Dukes, whoever lies beneath those handsomely engraved markers deserve to have a clean ground just as much as their owners do. But the Humane Society and other animal care groups have opted to focus on the living pets. And it’s way too much for one person to do.