Thursday, 19 March 2009

Bodies of Evidence

Reflecting on the demise of poor Satchmo (see previous post 'Dead Pets' Cemetery) has brought to mind the passing of other pets.

There have been a few. Not, I hasten to add, because I'm some irresponsible pet killer - but because, over the years I've had a lot of small mammals and, sooner or later, they go to the great big hutch in the sky.

Of course, when they die it leaves the problem of disposal.

With the guinea pigs we try to bury them in the garden but we (hell, what do I mean 'we' - I claim hysterical grief and refuse to go outside, thus ensuring my OH spend 30 minutes shoveling soil) have to dig a very deep hole or foxes just dig them up again - which is, erm, 'unpleasant'.

However, larger mammals are a problem. Particularly if you have a small garden with very little spare soil that isn't already a grave.

Thus ensued the farce which was 'The Disposal of Dukey'.

Dukey (or 'Marmaduke' to give him his full title) was a largish rabbit.

He wasn't originally my rabbit - he belonged to someones neighbour and she no longer wanted him or his guinea pig pal so they ended up living in my garden.

He also wasn't originally called Marmaduke. He was called Hedges. And his pal was called 'Benson'. Oh dear, oh dear. I had to change their names - I mean where would a theme like that end? Lambert & Butler? Malboro & Embassy? or god forbid, Rothmans & Superking Extra?

Anyway, Dukey got quite old and then one winter he got the 'snuffles'. I kid you not - the 'snuffles' is actually a real rabbit illness. It sounds harmless but it can be pretty damn fatal. Especially in the case of Dukey.

So Dukey passed.

The weather was freezing - everything was frozen solid - so we wrapped him in the old orange bath towel we used to use to bath him and put him on the patio.

And there he stayed, frozen in time, for some time while we tried to work out what to do with him.

There was no way we could dig a whole to bury him - you would need a JCB and that seemed a trifle excessive.

Putting him in the bin or similar just seemed hugely disrespectful and totally wrong.

Taking him to the vets for cremation at the cost of about £90 seemed, to be frank, absolutely cuckoo (plus I used to work in the vets and have to empty the 'dead pets' freezer and deal with the cremation people and I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl - but I won't).

So I decided, in my own unique way, to 'let his soul run free with his wild brothers and return his spirit to nature'.

A.K.A 'take his towel wrapped body over the railway and into the nature reserve and leave it somewhere wild, which actually meant chucking it down a small ravine'.

So one cold and frosty morning I stashed his cold little body underneath the pram (not your typical changing bag contents I will admit) and off we went - for the final goodbye.

I wandered up and down the railway embankment for a while amidst the wild rabbit warrens, trying to find the 'right' place but soon realised I would have to actually chuck my orange parcel quite high in the air to get it down 'where the wild things are' (please note: Dukey and his towel were fully biodegradable so I do not consider what I did as litter dropping - something I utterly hate). Funnily enough this was not something I wanted to be witnessed doing and every time I went to launch him, a dog walker would appear and I'd have to suddenly act all normal and give them a smiley 'morning'.

Anyway, eventually the deed was done, I memorised the spot, wished him well on his journey to the afterlife, and went home and got on with my life.

Until about a week later when I came home to find the police helicopter hovering over the railway embankment, squad cars everywhere and the whole area cordoned off.

The area was a hive of activity with the words on everybody's lips 'what IS going on!?'.

The word was there was a suspicious package and something to do with a body.

OH HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF THE LORD, I thought, someone's dog has clearly 'retrieved' Dukey and a small body wrapped in a towel has sparked the biggest police operation the area has ever seen.

My heart was racing. I mean I've been involved in some farces but this really topped it. Would they be able to trace me? Would my DNA be on the towel? What could I be charged with? Would people misunderstand my story and label me somekind of pet killing psycho? Had their been witnesses? I toyed with going to the police and holding my hands and saying 'Look OK, it was me, it's a rabbit, the towel is his shroud' but I was worried they might section me.

I could seriously barely sleep that night. Every time I heard someone say 'they've found a body!' my heart would lurch.

As it turned out it wasn't Dukey. It was actually some poor other soul but I think it's safe to say that I won't be returning any other dead pets to the wild.

Next time I think I'll go the viking route - you know, blazing longboat down the canal.....


  1. Oh dear! Although on the Benson and Hedges name front, I once new a pair of horses with those names (full brothers, with a sister called Silky, short for Silkcut - I kid you not). Anyway, it wasn't really a problem until Benson died. And then we were left with a horse called Hedges, which on its own is just a damn stupid name and meant constantly explaining it to new clients at the riding school. But then again the same lady who owned the all (but didn't have enough land to keep them so loaned them free to the riding school!) also leant the school a mother and full brother and sister, called Tara, Czar and Zara....think she had a thing for 'matching' names!

  2. that should say 'loaned' not 'leant' as well

  3. Please stop, my pelvic floor can't take it !

  4. Ah well at least old Dukey has achieved some sort of immortality in cyber-space...

  5. I know nothing and I never read this blog.....