"Memory Garden"

by Dawn Staffen 

cherry tree

When any of us think of losing one of our dogs, it becomes hard to catch our breath, the eyes begin to tear and our heart breaks just a little. We all deal with the loss in different ways. For myself, I like to think that their spirit goes on forever. For this reason I plant a tree and hang their name tags from it, and bury their remains below.

The trees are planted around the dog yard so my girls can help shade and watch over those who are still with us. I have a horticulture friend who helps me pick just the right one. My only requirement is it must do something special in the month I lost the dog. We always think our first will be the worst. I certainly thought that at the time, but as time goes by we realize they all hold a special place in our hearts.

I lost my first Newf, Angel on May 17, 1999. She was the light of my life and taught me so much about the breed. Her tree is a Yoshino Cherry and blooms pink (her color) early May. Every season I still, 13 years later, take a picture of her… As much as I hate snow, she helps make it pretty and she’s beautiful in the spring.

Ami’s leaves change color around the 1st of July, Mika holds her leaves all winter as she passed on November 22. Ruby’s tree is called a Crimson Cloud Hawthorn and has the most beautiful red blossoms all summer. The best part of that one is all the blossoms smell wonderful and attract Bees! Perfect as her daughter is my Bee.

When my Mom passed this past summer I got a tree for her as well, and planted it by my others as she loved my dogs almost as much as I did. And the memorial garden where Ruby and Mom are was designed with a perfect spot in mind for something yellow someday.

I’ve always said God gives you the dog you need, at the time you need it. I like to think He takes the dog at the time because He needs it. And we all know, they’ll be there waiting for us, healthy and wagging on the other side of the bridge.


reprinted from Newf Tide 2012, originally printed in  The Noble Newf, GLNC