Death can be so unexpected and it is often just a breath away. I find it interesting that although many of us believe in a better life in the hereafter, we will do all we can to keep someone alive. I often wondered whether you could give the kiss of life to an animal.. and one day I decided to find out…
I was sitting at my desk in my office, minding my own business, when I heard a large “THUD” at the window… it sounded like a bird had flown into the glass and, sure enough, in the garden was a male quail wandering around, looking quite forlorn. I quietly opened the front door and went down the steps to approach him as he stood by the hedge. But as I watched, I realized it was not the male that was injured, it was his lady friend who was lying prostrate on the grass.
I opened the front door and quietly approached the couple. He ran under the nearby hedge as I gently took her up in my hands and swathed her in my arm, being careful to give the dog a swift kick for sticking his nose in and licking his lips.
I saw no signs of life and so I gently pressed my forefinger to her warm clavicle to check for a heartbeat – nothing. Thank God I remembered my First Aid! With her back coupled in my hands, I pressed my lips to her beak and blew. The dog cocked his head on one side and looked at me quizzically. The male quail stepped gingerly further into the bush. Again I blew. But even though I tried and tried again, nothing. The flightless, feathery female was dead.
If I left her on the lawn, she would be scavenged by the merciless, vulture-like crows now gathering on the telephone wires. I decided the only answer was to bury her in the barren garden at the back of the house. but then it was full of big, fat carnivorous worms… and so I found some old plywood, cut it with an handsaw and put together a little box. I placed her limp body inside and started to dig.
The dog was totally useless. For all the other times when he gladly dug up the garden for no good reason, he chose to just lie on the grass and watch the “crazy woman”.
Eventually, I saw the male quail, or should I say I heard him. He was on top of the house and lamenting with a sorrowful “Uh–errrrr!, Uh-errrr!”, it was like he was crying “Come back! Come back!” My heart was heavy but I knew I had to carry on with the disdainful job.
Finally, when I had placed her a good foot under and covered her up, I took the dog back to the house before he could start digging. As I looked out the window into the back yard I spotted the male, which had flown down and was pacing, scratching and pacing again… Was he trying to dig up his mate? It bothered me and I closed the curtains; it was almost nightfall.
I slept poorly that night and had nightmares of a sad little male quail sitting on the grave when I pulled the curtains the next morning.
The alarm rang, I rubbed my still sleepy eyes and went to make coffee, I was almost scared to open the curtains but when I did, I got the shock of my life. I looked at the grave site… It was unearthed! The coffin was open. I felt sick to my stomach; I must have buried an animal while it was still alive!
Then, a movement caught my eye… there was something at the bottom of the Linden tree. I got my binoculars and focused in… just behind the tree I could see movement…the next-door cat, licking itself clean, surrounded by little grey feathers.
The dog looked at me, licking his lips and whining to go out and so I opened the door. It only seemed right that I finally let nature take its course.