dog ashes and Tualatin river walk

The self-assigned chore for Sanguinity and me yesterday was to go pick up the dog’s ashes from the pet funeral center in the suburb across the river. And to get out of the house and go for a walk, because Thursday was all cooking and cleaning and eating and talking, and neither of us stepped any farther outside than the compost pile.

There are bike paths and parks very close to our destination, down by the Tualatin River, so I tossed a water bottle and some cold turkey in the car and we set out. The pet funeral place is in a business park, in one of those not-quite-industrial strips on a busy street. Wooden pallets and gravel parking lots and puddles. But you step in the door and suddenly classical music is playing and there are little urns and memorial stones on shelves lining all the walls, and prayer flags with pawprints, and books about grieving for pets.

While the lady was going to get Louie’s ashes I snooped around some more. In the next room there were urns for horse ashes, which didn’t seem big enough to hold a whole horse’s worth, and a dog-proportioned wooden coffin with a satin lining and pillow, and an urn showing the Twin Towers and Statue of Liberty (?). The little waiting room had a Buddha statue in it. Between that and the prayer flags, Buddhism definitely trumped Christianity in pet funeral representation. I wonder why that is.

We were quizzed on Louie’s other last name, which made me wonder if pet-custody-ashes-stealing is common, but turns out there was another set for a Louis with a last name similar to mine, so she was just making double-sure to hand us the right box. (Tin box like cookies come in, but small, with flowers on it.) We’d been curious about whether his surgery hardware would still be in there, so I asked, and she said no, that stuff is taken out before final processing (grinding everything up so there aren’t big chunks of bone). But, she offered to go get the pins and staples for me if I wanted! She clearly didn’t want to, but she was game. I assured her it was okay, I would have no regrets about leaving them behind. I had thought the funeral people might be overly solicitous or smarmy, but she was a touch snarky and hilarious.

We made our way to Tualatin Community Park. They have a really good playground, suitable for bigger kids (and us), with a tall rope web structure and interesting pivot-and-twirl metal things. We walked along the bike path by the river, stopping to watch the dogs at the dog park, and continued over the pedestrian bridge to Cook Park, which is in Tigard. There was a small garter snake, a kingfisher, oak galls, rose hips, geese…reminded me of the bike trails in my Colorado hometown.

We wanted to cut over to a nearby trail to make a loop back through Durham City Park toward the car, but there were railroad tracks and blackberries in the way. We decided to walk around on the streets and find the trail from the other side. Bad idea. The streets were busy and we trudged along with cars whipping past until we were hungry and dispirited and possibly lost. A pedestrian we met was a visitor herself, but told us she’d come from the city park via a certain street. We were ecstatic when we got to that street, but it turned out to be a wandering fancy-houses development which led us in a big curve back to the busy street. (If we’d gone down the right cul-de-sac, we probably would have found trail access. But by then we were in forced-march mode and the thought of traipsing down each one to look was not appealing.)

Business parks, closed medical offices, business parks, fenced utility offices, business parks. Sanguinity pointed out that everyone who worked here must either bring a lunch or drive somewhere for lunch. We were kind of starting to hate the suburbs.

We finally saw a Taco Del Mar. Fish tacos and Fanta gave us hope that maybe we could find the car again before full dark. Sure enough, we crossed the street to a parking lot with a map and saw that we were only a block from the park! Total hiker moment of being so glad to see the car and drive home to where the food and books are. Which felt a little silly, but hey, we had walked through three different cities.

Now Louie’s ashes are up on a shelf next to the cat’s. We don’t have plans for them, other than realizing we should do something with them before we die too. Maybe there will be a summertime hike when it seems right to take them along and scatter them somewhere Louie would have liked. (Which means somewhere smelly and interesting, not one of those boring viewpoints we keep insisting on stopping at.)