Here in Italy, it is fairly unusual to see an obituary in the newspaper unless the deceased is someone famous. Instead, people hang small posters on public notice boards with a photo, basic information about the person and the time and place of the funeral. I’ve never actually noticed this in Rome but you see it in small towns all the time. I took a bunch of photos of these manefesti funebri when I was in Puglia last summer. After the funeral, mourners are usually given a ricordino, a wallet-sized laminated card with a photo of the dear departed, birth and death dates and usually a prayer.
Dogs don’t generally rate newspaper obituaries or manifesti funebri but I guess if you’ve got a blog you can do what you want. My dog Lula died just over a week ago. This is for her.
Tallulah Bankhead Raymond died on 5 February 2013 at 4:00 in the afternoon. She was 15 years old. I found Lula in a cardboard box in Campo di Fiori when she was just a few months old. She had been dumped outside a dog shelter along with her sisters and the shelter people brought the puppies into town and were offering them to anyone who could give them a good home. I had lost my dog Badger just a few months before and although I enjoyed the freedom from responsibility and the spontaneous life of the non-dog owner, that really paled by comparison to how great it is to be one.
Lula was never an easy dog. I imagine she’d had some serious traumas before she found her way to that box in Campo di Fiori. She was scared of so many things — long-haired German Shepherds, thunder, the handsome vet, bald headed men, blue eyed dogs. For the first few years, she hid under the bed when anyone came over that she didn’t know. I put her through two years of doggie therapy — yes, I am serious — and that helped a lot. She never lost her initial fear of strangers but she’d usually loosen up with them after a bit of time.
About 8 years ago, Lula was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, which occurs when the adrenal glands don’t produce sufficient steroid hormones. President Kennedy had Addison’s. Lula took pills and had injections every day for the rest of her life.
Lula was not an easy dog nor did she have an easy life. But she was incredibly loving and loyal and sweet. She loved Morgan and she loved me. She loved her Aunties. She loved to swim. It’s very quiet around here these days — Lula was a barker — and we miss her so much. I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eyes and expecting her to greet me at the door.
Now here’s a thing. I had Lula cremated and they brought me her ashes in a little box earlier this week. I put the box on the top of a bookshelf in the hall. The first time Morgan passed by the bookcase he did this.
At first I thought it was some crazy coincidence. Maybe there was a ball or cookie on the bookcase that had caught his eye? But now I’m not so sure. Since Tuesday, literally every time I have brought Morgan in from a walk and he’s passed by the bookcase, he sits for a minute and stares at Lula’s ashes. It’s creepy. But it’s also pretty wonderful.