A Blanket of Memories
When I was choosing my university degree years ago and realized that, with a bit of planning and hard work, I could complete two degrees at the same time I thought, “Why not?” Make sure your electives meet the requirements of the 2nd degree – doable. I searched through that university calendar and settled on education and psychology. Not too far out-of-the-box and completely complementary.
Now, to preface this story I suppose I should explain something about me; I have a true fascination for all crime dramas. Some would characterize it as a morbid curiosity, but I don’t really like using the term ‘morbid’ – after all, it’s usually defined as “suggesting an unhealthy mental state or attitude; unwholesomely gloomy, sensitive, extreme, etc.” Really? We must be a really unhealthy society if shows like Criminal Minds can make it into its 9th season. Law and Order (20 seasons), Law and Order: SVU (15 seasons and counting), CSI (14 seasons and counting). What about CSI: Miami? CSI: New York? Law and Order: Criminal Intent? Other than that last one, I don’t see their popularity abating. Morbid, indeed.
Anyway, when I was choosing my psychology courses, I avoided the elective courses such as ‘Adolescent Development’ (Child Development was required) and chose courses like ‘The Psychology of Death and Dying’. I was even able to register for a ‘Special Topics’ course which, in the late 90s, was ‘The Psychology of Serial Killers and Mass Murderers’. Most interesting class EVER! For the final project in the latter class I opted for a research paper/presentation on Charles Ng – caught in a Calgary department store for shoplifting. In the former class, my paper was entitled: Dealing with the Death of a Pet.
The death of a pet. This was before I had a pet – well, other than the family pets with whom I grew up. For some reason I wasn’t as close to them as I was to Scarlett. I remember researching the Kubler-Ross stages of grief model and reading about how society generally doesn’t allow for such a grieving process for animals. “It was just a dog. Get over it. Maybe get a new one.” Familiar refrain? Well, I think times have changed a bit – more people waiting to or avoiding having kids and, instead, sharing their home with a ‘fur baby’.
Scarlett was not ‘just a dog’. I’m going to be working through these stages slowly m’thinks. The tendency to go one step forward and two steps back in the process is not a comforting prospect. For those readers who don’t understand, just avoid the posts with the tags mentioning Scar. For those readers interested in northern life, though…this post is still relevant.
A small dog in the north is unique. Sharing your home with a dog in the north is a different experience than that in the south. There are no vets, no groomers, no place to buy cutesy outfits, no dog parks, no training classes, no agility classes, no…just no things that you usually have to spoil your pups. That is why I did/do my best to provide them with homemade treats and food which kept/keeps them healthy.
NB: Yes, I need to use two tenses…Scarlett has passed, but I still have Gryphon and Macy to care for.
Back to the northern dog ownership experience…
Since Rankin Inlet is one of the larger communities in the north, there seems to be a lot more variety in attitudes and lifestyles. Some people from here have been supportive and, for that, I am grateful. What do you do with the dead body of a treasured family member in the black Arctic winter? Snow, ice, permafrost? Thank god J was there to help. Last Monday I bawled for hours…I couldn’t function. I was laid out on the floor until J helped move me onto the bed. He took Her somewhere safe to wait until the summer thaw. She will not be in the dump for the damn polar bears to feast on…that’s how some dogs end up. Not Scarlett.
Ok…had to take a little break to cry there…
I’ve decided that I’ll need to work through this somehow, and the Kubler-Ross method won’t help me. It might help others to understand, but it won’t actually help me. I’ve decided, instead, to start collecting patches of her various sweaters, coats, leashes, toys, etc. and start designing a memorial quilt. Maybe that will help.
Sidenote: Just after Christmas I bought myself a new sewing machine with a quilting function. Sewing is very popular for all ages in the north, and I wanted something to keep me busy. Fellow blogger and friend, Sarah, sparked the interest…she’s working on her first quilt made from old baby clothes over in Pangnirtung.
Anyway, for those of you who have stories, pictures, or scraps of material, I am now officially asking for donations. Every scrap has a story. My email and mailing address can be found in the ‘Blog Chick’ tab on the menu bar. I would love for any quilting advice as well – I don’t have anyone but the internet to guide me through this process (no lessons offered in Rankin as far as I can tell).
…wow, what a rambling post. That’s been my mental state since Monday. Work has been excruciating…I can’t concentrate on anything! Sorry for the confusion. Although I have the intellectual ability to process ‘Stages of Grief’ models in university assignments, it’s the writing that helps on a more immediate level.