Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The young pilgrim, the maremma and the mule.

It was a day of matchless beauty. A cloudless sun wrapped morning that brought a smile to the most downcast face. The vet came towards noon. He laughed when he found Digby positioned asleep in the 'out of bounds' drawing room. ' No need to move him' . A routine of well practised warmth and tender efficiency. Patient quickly checked, hair tousled, words of reassurance given. The first injection gently administered while we held him. One last trusting look and our troubadour was asleep. The vet quietly picked up boy and basket and carried them gently down to the front door - ' too beautiful a day for him to be indoors' . There in the dappled sun, to the sound of the woodpecker and cuckoo and surrounded by his family, the second injection. The end of a long journey together.

In the afternoon a strange event. The sort of thing  that provokes answers and questions in equal measure. By six we'd prepared Digbys resting spot under the shade of the old oak tree. A place of long views across the fields to the distant mountains. As I started to cover the body with earth a young man , twenty three maybe twenty four, with a mule and a large white Maremma sheepdog rings the bell at the gate. A pilgrim on his way along the old Via Tolosana to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella. A sight that was once common but is rare and jarringly out of place today. 

Could he fill up his canteen with water ? Irritated by this intrusion into a private moment I somewhat gracelessly stopped my task and walked him over to the house. While 'the font' and he chatted I carried on my work, lost in thoughts and memories. The young man suddenly reappeared carrying eight of the old large floor tiles that were stored in the barn. 'We, won't need those' I snapped , angered that this stranger should seek to tell me what to do. Then a strange response  - "Oh but you will. Sheepdogs don't like thunder". With that he handed me down the tiles , pointing out the best way to layer them protectively over the body. "Now he's safe and warm". He helped me move the rest of the soil and then he joined us for a quick glass of wine , a toast to our departed friend . I went back into the house to get the camera. When I came back the unknown ,nameless pilgrim was gone. I managed to catch two quick snaps of him , his mule and his Maremma heading off along the lane into the distance.

At midnight the mother of all thunderstorms. Unexpected, elemental and violent. The strength of the downpour overwhelming the gutters and downpipes. Digby hated thunderstorms but thanks to our unknown young pilgrim he was warm, safe and protected where he slept. How did he know ?


  1. All we can say is that an Angel stopped by and tried to give you some comfort during this sad time. You may think I am mad, but I cannot stop crying as I read your post (again and again).

    We are so sorry for your loss... Sleep tight, dear Digby.

    Shane (Huskee and Hershey's mom)

  2. oh my god... beauty dosnt describe that experience...

    we have been moved by digby's strength and the discovery of your blog & your writing... our city has been in (reportedly) drought, whilst great for all of us loving the outdoors we do understand the sad neglect of the plants...the iinconvenience of it all without shelter... tonight in auckland that drought has been broken with huge rainstorms predicted... digby to us will always be remembered with the rain... nice!

    when the pain eases do visit us http://theprofessionalsat.blogspot.com

    you and wilf are in our thoughts...
    loves and licks

  3. What a tale of sadness, then wonder and finally hope. I think Huskee and Hershey may be right. May you take comfort in things us ordinary mortals cannot explain. We send you love and comfort in your loss of dear Digby, such a brave and valiant dog who embraced life fully until his final sleep. Run free Digby it was such a pleasure knowing you and our loss we didn't know you sooner.

    Wiry love Eric x

  4. So sad for you. God bless dear Digby.

  5. that sent shivers down my spine....an angel indeed.....

  6. Utterly remarkable Angus. We live in an amazing world. Words fail me.

  7. Oh we just found out about your darling boy and can not even begin to express what is in our hearts No words can express what we are feeling on our hearts. We send you love and supprt a d know that we go on our walk we will look up at the stars and see Digby and Jax watching over all if us love Agatha and Archie

  8. We are crying too. We think you had an Angel visit you. Sleep tight sweet Digby. we are so sorry you hadta go to the Bridge so soon ~ but you go knowing you are loved forever.

    Milo, Alfie and our Mom.

  9. We came over from the Poupounette to share our heartfelt purrs and condolences. It certainly sounds like an angel visited with you today.

  10. Mom always says there are Angels among us...

    They show up when we don't even know we need them...And, after they are gone, we know why we did...

    Please know you remain in our thoughts & prayers...

    Abby & her Mom xxxxxxoooooo

  11. Words totally escape me, but you Angus, have found beautiful, touching and poignant ones.

  12. Angus, this sends chills up my body as I have a similar story from our dear Java. I don't know if you've had a chance to read it or no, but angels come in all forms - and you certainly were entertained by a caring angel. They are Godsends who come when we need them most.


  13. For some time my first awake thought went to Digby and your family.
    Pour little Digby, how brave he fought and how loving you let him fight as long as he had the strenght and was in no pain. So sorry a miracle could not turn up.
    A very thought provoking event with the pilgrim and his animals.
    I first came to your blog because a certain Angus very often in few word expressed exactly what I should have like to say.
    I want to qoute you for one comment especially, but I cant find it again, so excuse me for not beeing accurate. In my memory it was something like:" What a strange world, the internet. How can someone, who you never met and probably nevet will meet, be so much in your thoughts?"
    I do hope that you recognize it, because it was excatly what I felt that day - and now feel about you, The Font and Wilff- Love from ÉM in DK

  14. Yet another Angel appears to help our beloved on their way. What an incredible but touching story. Godspeed, sweet Digby and hugs to the family.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  15. A pilgrim with a very special mission - letting you know Digby is in caring hands today.

  16. I am weeping as I read these words... my late yellow lab Duchess hated the thunderstorms too.
    Thankyou for sharing these special moments with Digby and the tale of the guardian that meandered down the road to assist in his final journey.
    Hold tight to Digby's memory for it shall be awakened at moments we as humans do not quite comprehend...
    Susan x

  17. Oh.....I am so sorry..... Have peace in your heart knowing that the great digby is at peace now....I am so sad

  18. Angels arrive in our life when we need them most. You would not of thought of that in the state of mind you were in and God knew it needed to be done. Digby is being very well taken care of....

  19. Having returned so recently, I too can't help but put this beautifulnstory in Biblical context. What a powerful final chapter to the Gospel of Digby. This is a story I will save and share again and again. Thank you.

  20. To say you were visited by an Angel seems as good an explantion as any, to tell the truth. It seems so very odd, but fitting. Digby is mourned by so many who never met him, but have been inspired by his fight. Your loss is great, but the great thing was to have had him in your life, of course. With dogs and time, as you well know, it's not the legnth of the life but the quality that counts the most. Digby's certainly didn't lack for quality and love. And that's what matters to us in the end.


  21. I suppose the pilgrim was meant to be there, just at that time, and may the tiles protect Digby!

  22. Oh dear, I thought I had shed all the tears I had yesterday -- but this story brought new torrents. It echoes tales from the Bible, doesn't it! And love for the ages.

    Rest in peace here on earth, sweet Digby. Run free in the beyond.

    xxx Joan

  23. What a wonderful vet to carry Digby out into the sunshine and warmth. I think we all wish for a vet who cares for our kids like that at the end.
    I too, think of the Bible when reading about the pilgrim. How did he manage to be on your road and to stop by your house on this day? How did he know that sheepdogs didn't like thunderstorms? Did he know there was a drenching storm coming that very night? Then to walk off with his mule and belongings (and a dog?) before you could snap his photo. Only to prove there are angels amoung us.
    Get some rest my friends, snuggle with Wilf. Digby is safe now.


  24. That does sound like the visit of an angel. Rest well, Digby. You will be welcomed dearly in heaven.

  25. "We should not forget to entertain strangers, lest we entertain angels unaware."
    - - - - Bible - Hebrews 13:2

    And no doubt you did. God loves dogs. They are His one perfect creation, don't you think?

  26. How sweet! It's funny how sometimes just what we need comes along with perfect timing. Digby certainly earned his wings and his rest! Smiling through tears at your story.

  27. What an amazing and very special story .... we always believe there are angels around.

    take care
    Clive and Murray

  28. The tears continue to roll down mom's cheeks. You remain in our thoughts and prayers, Angus.

    Love ya lots
    Maggie, Mitch and Sue

  29. Simply put, God answers prayers. Sometimes we don't recognize an answered prayer when it comes to us. Later, after we've had time to reflect and ponder, it sinks in. Many of us prayed that God would give you comfort.

    And thank you for sharing with us Digby's final moments. It is a comfort to us around the world to know that he went with such love and devotion by his side. We should all be so fortunate.


  30. How glad I am that Digby could go with such quiet grace ,sorrounded by love and family with all the beauty around him. It must have been an angel to help make sure Digby would be safe and comfortable and always protected.
    the tears are back for the miracle of life and the loss of a very special little dog
    Asta sends her comforting smoochie kisses
    you are all in our hearts
    loveAmi(Asta's Mommi)

  31. My heart aches for you during this most difficult time.
    Rest in Peace, Dear Digby.
    Kit in Georgia

  32. I dont know you, I only found your blog today. I have no words to ease your sadness. Poor Wilf will be missing his brother, give him a big hug from all his cyber friends.

  33. Angels among us indeed. One who stops for water, ending up helping you with the final resting place of dear Digby. I've re-read this post over and over. Letting the wonder of it set in.
    A thunderstorm coming already taken care of by Digby's angel. How could he have known unless he was an angel unawares.
    An angel of a vet to let Digby go out into the sun for his final moments.
    Of all the ways that last decision one has to make, that one hates to make, can be carried out, the way your vet conducted it was gentle, kind and compassionate. To Digby, to his family.
    Oh Dear Digby, you were and will continue to be loved. By many you never knew as well as your family.
    Once again we hold your family in our heart Angus. I hope as the days go by, you and the "font" and wilf too, heal alittle more each day. I cannot think of more loving and respectful course to a horrid time. And I am so thankful you did come to the time when Digby did let you know. No regreats, no what ifs, just a job well done. True, the thing we all hate, but come with the territory. It's just so damn hard.
    As you gaze upon Digby's resting place, so beautiful a place her on earth, I see Digby up in heaven(where ther are no thunderstorms) back in his prime playing and running the fields as he waits for his family to appear one by one. Playing with all well loved dogs waiting for their families. I see what Petey described in his post yesterday.
    And I sit here in wonder at the story you just told.
    ((((((((HUGS)))))))))from us. Rest. Y'all have been through a very hard time and now have the grief to get through. Don't be surprised when you think you see Digby out of the corner of your eye in the coming weeks/months. It has happened to me with each dog I have ever lost. I'm still not sure if it is a trick my mind plays on me, or a quick visit from the friend gone on to heaven.....

  34. As others have said, there are angels that visit us - we are unaware of their presence - but nonetheless, they are there.

    That pilgrim's Maremma is a fortunate dog - or was it a dog - in all actuality?

  35. OMG.....what are you trying to do to me. What a terrific send-off for Digby. I feel like I knew him....in a sense, I did.

  36. Kisses and blessings and hugs to all of you. I am quite sure the Pilgrim was an Angel on Earth come to help you and Digby. Rest in Peace beautiful friend. With great love for Digby and all dogs and the broken hearts they leave behind... xoxox Ina, and her precious poodles, Toby, Ginger, Jeter and Halle

  37. I want to send tender licks to you and I promise to be on my best behaviour every now and again. I will be studying my daddies as they put me through paces and enjoy every once of life and laughter with me.

  38. I have just read a touching post about Digby's passing by my friend Pamela over at the House of Edward. So am visiting to add my sympathy to that being expressed by so many others here. You have written beautifully about Digby's last moments and I'm sure the actions of your pilgrim visitor will have helped you in ways we might never imagine.

  39. That is a touching and amazing story...
    How DID he know? I'm sure he came for a reason.
    Thanks for sharing that beautiful tale with us.

    Thinking of you and the font,
    Heather and Ellie

  40. Deepest sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for sharing his story.

    Melissa & Shady

  41. If I should ever leave you,
    Whom I love
    To go along the silent way. . .Grieve not
    Nor speak of me with tears.
    But laugh and talk of me
    As if I were beside you there.
    (I'd come. . .I'd come,Could I but find a way!
    But would not tears and grief be barriers?)
    And when you hear a song Or see a bird I loved,
    Please do not let the thought of me
    Be sad. . .for I am loving you
    Just as I always have. . .You were so good to me!
    There are so many things I wanted still to do. . .
    So many things I wanted to say to you. . .
    Remember that I did not fear. . .
    It was
    Just leaving you
    That was so hard to face.
    We cannot see beyond. . .
    But this I know:
    I loved you so.
    . .'twas heaven here with you!

    Our deepest purrs on your loss

  42. Oh dear, tears flowing down my face again. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us, he was a very lucky dog to have such a caring family to love him. Sue x

  43. What an extraordinary story. We are leaky, but know Digby is safe. Sammie sends licks and hugs to you, Wilf and to your family. We are thinking of you so much.
    With Hugs xoxoxo,
    Sammie and family

  44. We heard about Digby from our friend Abby. We want to offer our condolences and hugs and purrs at this sad time.
    --JB, Chester, CB, Armani, Gaia, Charli and mom

  45. Thank you for sharing this story with us. We hope the memories of your visit from a kind stranger bring you great comfort and warmth in the days ahead.

    Our thoughts are with you and we send our deepest sympathies across the miles.

  46. God cares for all his creatures, great and small. digby is indeed safe and warm now. i am thankful that your visitor provided some comfort to you despite your aching loss.
    rest in peaceful slumber, dear digby.

    the booker man and asa's mama

  47. Dear Angus

    Thank you again...at this time of deep sadness...for sharing, so beautifully, your personal place...

    "The quality of a man's life is measured by how deeply he has touched the lives of others."

    Sending love and comfort to you. Our eyes aren't dry either.


  48. That's a touching account of how Digby was sent off. Aunty Diana's eyes just welled up when the first injection was administered. Then she was crying reading through the rest of the post.

    To Digby, rest in peace. We know you'll be well and free of all pain over at the Rainbow Bridge.

  49. What a nice story. We will all eagerly await the adventures of Wilf. I hope he isn't too lonely.

  50. that story brought tears to my eyes. what a beautiful gift from heaven - the man with the mule and his offering.

    i'm so touched.

    (the 4Bs mom)

  51. Angels come in all shapes and sizes - he must have been Digby's.

    Thank you again for sharing and please know we hold you tight.


  52. i am completely at a loss for words
    how wonderful to have been helped by an angel . and angel helping a new angel along the way. im sure your conforted in knowing that your digby is with the angels now since one came to help him on his journey.such a beutiful experience you had. your in our thoughts.

  53. such an amazing story. Digby slept peacefully last night thanks to a passing angel.
    You and your family are in our thoughts.

  54. Well Digs is on his way! We will hope the days ahead will bring some measure of comfort and that Wilf will will not feel too lonely. Our hearts and prayers are with you, of course.

    Much love from Oregon, Dozer, Dottie and Cooper

  55. Run free Digby...watch down on your family they will miss you terribly, we all will...

    This is an AMAZING story. There are angels all around us. protecting us. helping us. shielding us. comforting us...

    Wags and Woofs,
    Mack and Mia

  56. I got goosebumps all over as I read this post and felt it happen -

    Khyra did sit out Monday evening watching for Digby and Jackson's stars -

    Once again, thanks for sharing -

    Please give Wilf a hug from here!

    Khyra and Phyll

  57. Wow.

    Digby is settled. And now you three know he is safe for all time. Hopefully you all will have some peace in that. Give Wilf lots of hugs and kisses from us.

    (when Monte lost his brother he would go pee on the grave all the time, we figured he was marking his brother so everything would leave him alone, he was the protector.)

  58. I have been following your story for several weeks and each post would bring me to tears. I haven't commented yet, blaming my inablilty to see thru the tears. This post is no different, in fact I think I wept the most but felt compelled to thank you for sharing with us your love of your dogs. Such a beautiful soul your little Digby had, and what an amazing ocurrance yesterday with your visitor. Digby is resting comfortably, safe from all storms.

    Hugs to you and the Font,


  59. A hand for Digby's peace, a gesture for your solace, in the form of a pilgrim, a mule and a Maremma. Digby is riding with the King....fur sure.

  60. We are sad and cry for the loss of one who fought so hard to stay with you. But we smile for the kindness and ingenuity of a stranger.

  61. Thank you for sharing, Angus.

    Truly an angel stopped by to help Digby on his way to heaven...and to guide you to keep safe and warm his earthly remains.

    If this helps u in any way.....http://doggywisdom.blogspot.com/2010/05/for-you-dear-digby.html

  62. Rest in peace little man. You are all in our thoughts.

    Denise Noah Willow Tess & Lucy

  63. That whole event was a "God thing." I'm so thankful that God is THE God of Comfort and is into details.
    So, so very sorry for your loss. Much love from our Tennessee holler to you all.

  64. Oh Angus,
    I have come over from Pamela's blog, The House of Edward. I am so sorry to hear of Digby's passing. He was obviously very special and has given you many memories to remember him by. That will not be much comfort at the moment but, in the coming months will give you much comfort. I think that Digby had a strong and loveable character, even though I didn't know him . The man who stopped was obviously sent for a reason. I'm sure that you have found his arrival and what he did, very comforting indeed and, how strange that there was an unexpected storm that night.
    I am thinking of you at this sad time. XXXX

  65. Thank you for sharing that beautiful story. We know Digby is safe now.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  66. I keep coming back to read your moving story. It has taken root in my heart and is as vivid as though I was there.

    Thank you for sharing that blessing.

    I left a brief tribute to Digby on our blog, as have so many of his and your friends.

    xxx Joan

  67. Angels appear when we need them.
    Soft woofie kisses,

  68. I cried yesterday when I read the news but the story you posted today kind of makes me smile a little bit. It's like an angel from Heaven came down to take care of him in his final resting place. I buried my beloved kitty in my yard when he passed. I'm can't find work and am afraid I'm going to lose my house. If I do have to move, my sweet kitty is coming with me. I won't leave him behind.

  69. The story of Digby's angel is amazing...

  70. This post truly touched my heart. I re-read it several times and each time it brought more tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss of such a dear friend. The friendship between a dog and his master is a special one and it has a bond that can not be broken. Please know that you are being thought of during this very sad time.

  71. Mommy is really sad for you. Everything somehow happens for the best. My big brother got sick about the same time your precious Digby got sick. He was facing something that Mommy thought was going to end the way y'all had to face. She was ready, but Mack was able to somehow pull through. He will be getting a cart to help him walk. I am am so sorry that Digby couldn't get better. When Mommy lost my big sister, she was sad for a long time;but, I was there to help her and make her not sad. Things will get better. It doesn't seem like it now, but they will improve.
    Sally Ann

  72. Angels come in every shape and size.

  73. Sleep well brave Digby. Heaven's light shines for you.

  74. I sit here typing through tears for your loss and the wonder of your pilgrim. Digby is safe, free and well. It is those of us left behind who need the tears. We too lost a dog to tick fever. We nursed him through five months but the after effects were too cruel and we finally let him go. So I know you did the right thing for Digby. And we too know what it is like to have a lone dog mourn for its companion. My thoughts are with you all in these coming days. Sue

  75. Grammy told us that God sent a message to you to let you know that Digby had arrived safely... That he was home and safe. His heart hurts when you, his children hurt, and so He sent a message to showed He cares for all of you, by taking extra care of your precious Digby... The Country Corgis

  76. That was beautiful. Reading it...I felt the hairs on my body rise, like right before a lighting storm. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. My thoughts are with you. I know Digby is in a better place, warm, protected and no longer scared.

    (((((((Big Hug)))))))))))

  77. We are sorry to hear of Digby's passing. His final resting place sounds devine. RIP fella.
    With Sympathy,
    Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie

    Your tribute to him was very touching. I'm truly sorry for your loss. x-cassie (the human)

  78. Rest in peace Sweet Digby.

    Angels do exist.