Operation Hilli Dig: A Funeral For A Friend

Hilli has been laid to rest.

This past February, I wrote two stories about my red Australian Cattle Dog, Hilli. I wanted to share the stories about my girls, where they came from etc. The first story I wrote about Hilli was about her adoption and adopting a senior dog.  You can read about that story here at Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog: Hilli.

Sadly, the second one that I wrote was only a week later and it was about her death. You can read about that here at Death and Friends; Hilli Has Flown Away.  Hilli had lived with me since October of the previous year. She was a sweet old girl.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I live in the midwest and it gets really cold here in the winter. Even though our winter was fairly mild this year., the ground was frozen in February. This posed a problem with her burial as I do not own large equipment that could dig a hole for me.

With the assistance of my friend, Diana, I was able to place Hilli’s body in a freezer until the ground thawed enough where we could use shovels to dig her grave site. I already knew where I wanted to bury her as far as location, but I still needed to find a spot for her grave.

Diana and I discussed the location and options in addition to how exactly we were planning to smuggle two shovels and a frozen dog into the undisclosed location to bury her.  It ended up not being as hard or awkward as I thought. Illegal? Maybe. I decided to just do it and not ask for permission. If I got caught I would apologize and ask for forgiveness.

After a lot of thought and even mentioning it to a couple of people, I determined the risk of being discovered by the police etc really wasn’t that scary and after I explained the story of Hilli, I would probably be met with understanding or at least a blind eye.

Move along, nothing to see here.

I also have the benefit of being known. It’s good to have connections, right? Amiright?  I don’t suggest smuggling your pets onto government owned property to perform a burial of your beloved canine. However, I would totally root for you.

As fate would have it, Diana had a large backpack that Hilli’s body easily fit into.  We decided to drop off our shovels and the backpack containing Hilli’s body near one of the back entrances to the undisclosed location. There’s a gate here but the fence has also fallen down and you could easily step over it. We hid the backpack and the shovels and then drove around the property to the entrance of the undisclosed location.

We hiked about a mile and a half until we selected the perfect spot. The location is up on a hill, just adjacent to the trail. It is between a ring of tall Oak trees and overlooks a wet land area that has a small creek flowing away from it.

We buried Hilli in the center of the ring of trees. In the spring, she will be covered in trillium’s. It was so peaceful.  It wasn’t weird or gross. She was perfectly preserved and looked like she had simply curled up and fell asleep. She was wrapped in her blanket and placed into the grave. We used the rocks that we dug up as a headstone.

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In our usual fashion,  we laughed at the situation. I think Hilli would have wanted that. Hilli tagged along on our winter hikes and she loved the property where we roamed. She would most definitely found the humor in the situation that presented itelself. I also believe that she appreciates what was done for her in the end.  At one point while we were still digging her grave, there was a cow in the distance that had the most eerie and demonic sounding moo, I’ve ever heard.  It was obvious that no one could see us from the road, but we couldn’t help but call out CAR!

We look so normal.

It’s stuff like this that makes me think about friends, life and things that are important. I’m lucky to have been able to have Hilli, even though she was only with me for a short time, but also that I have Diana and that she was more than willing to help me.

Below in the gallery are some shots of the undisclosed location.

 

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Death And Friends- Hilli Has Flown Away

My intention was to write blog posts for each of my dogs. All three of them have a story. We all have stories, but I think that dogs that have come from the shelter situations and have passed through many hands, have greater ones to tell.

This past week I had written about my eldest dog, Hilli, in a post titled “Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog-Hilli”. Hilli was a senior Australian Cattle Dog that I had adopted this past October. Hilli had been dumped at a shelter in Oklahoma for being “too old”. I took her despite the issues that came with her and she proved to make up for all of that with love.

It is with regret that a week later, Hilli has passed away.

I was home for the day after spending my morning at the market and was in pretty high spirits because I had finally located some curtains with patterns that I could live with for the upper level windows of my house.  I was happily doing house work, including laundry.

Hilli liked to lay on her bed in the basement. Just adjacent to where she liked to take her naps is the laundry room. When you run the dryer, it gets comfortably warm and creates the ideal environment for napping. I think that’s why she liked to lay down there so much.

I was making my way down the steps to change the laundry out and as I came to the bottom of the stairs I noticed that Hilli didn’t look quite right and on closer inspection, I realized that she was gone. It had only been a matter of minutes since she had flown away.

I called my friend Diana, the friend I hike with a lot, and told her the news. Diana and her husband own a lot of property so I wanted to see if I could bury her there. I’ve also never had anyone pass away at home or in the middle of winter before, so that posed a problem.

We decided that the best thing to do was to place Hilli in the freezer until the ground thawed and we could give her a proper burial.  After some discussion and debating on whether or not we would get in trouble or if we cared that we would get in trouble, we decided that we were going to place her on the grounds in one of the parks where we liked to hike.

It might seem gross to some people to place her in a freezer for a couple of months but I think it’s the best thing to honor her life. She deserves it. She lived all of those years and in the end, was dumped by the people who were supposed to love her.

I don’t know that Hilli was ever mistreated. If she had been, she didn’t show it. Hilli was a very loving dog and never knew a stranger.  She was always very sweet and receptive to everyone that she met.

But.. In the end, she was dumped and left with an unknown future. Her former owner probably has no idea that a breed specific rescue had taken her out of the shelter and transported her to Illinois to be adopted out to someone in north central Indiana.

Whomever had her probably assumed that she was just put to sleep and never gave it a second thought. If they even cared enough to give it a second though. Probably not though. Any decent person with a conscience would never have left their senior partner behind like that.

The last five months of her life were spent hiking, napping, eating and playing with my ten year old son. I know that she really enjoyed the time that she spent out on the trail and even though she was older, she had no trouble keeping up.

It only makes sense to lay her to rest in one of the places that she came to know and really enjoyed spending time at. I think I have the perfect spot in mind. The hard part is going to be sneaking on to the property with a shovel. I’m sure it will be fine.

I have just a little anxiety over knowing that I have a frozen dog in my best friends freezer. It’s also kind of comical and it’s like Diana told me “Everyone needs a friend that will let you keep a body in their freezer,”

How true is that?

I enjoyed my time with sweet little Hilli. I wish I could have had more time with her. I just hope that her last few months on Earth were happy and comfortable and that she never felt any sadness and if she did, it was only for a moment.

She will be missed.

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Hilli getting a drink during one of our hikes

Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog- Hilli

In October, I drove nearly three hours to meet up with the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois to pick up a stray that they had taken in.  All we really knew for sure was that she was approximately 7 years old, had cataracts in both eyes and that she was dumped at a pound in Oklahoma for being too old.

Hilli was led through the door on a leash. It was obvious that she did indeed have cataracts in both eyes and she was much older than 7.  Either way, she was in need of a home and senior dogs are hard to place.  After visiting with her for quite awhile, there was no way I wanted anyone else to take her.

Hilli can see a little bit during the day. I’m guessing that she can at least see shadows during the day. At night she will struggle if it’s dark and the lights are off. Once she figured out the house, she was fine.

At first, she was a little timid and would snap at people. She finally learned that she was safe and that there was no need for that behavior. Biting would have been a deal breaker.  She isn’t able to control her bladder much anymore. We deal with that by managing her water intake vs her frequent poddy breaks. It isn’t a perfect plan.

For now, Hilli is healthy and happy. She eats, she plays and she likes to join us on our short hikes. She keeps up just fine and actually does a lot better than Sasha ( the Rottweiler) and doesn’t seem to slow down at all.

There is something great about looking into the eyes of an old dog. Oh, the stories they could tell if they could. Looking past the eyes and seeing that life may not have always been great, but now it is, and that’s all that matters.  She looks forward to clean and warm blankets every morning, meals at the same time every day. A big yard to wander through. Not a care left in the world.

Hilli in October, right after her adoption. She helped my son and I rake leaves in the yard.

Hilli in October, right after her adoption. She helped my son and I rake leaves in the yard.

 

After adopting Hilli and watching her enjoy what’s left of her time living care free and in peace, it’s actually encouraged me to consider adopting more senior dogs. One at a time, of course, but to simply keep doing it.  The love and appreciation that is felt is overwhelming.

Why would anyone want to pass that up?