Fauneral for a friend Photo by: Christopher Nyerges

Fauneral for a friend

Prudence Boczarski-Daniel says goodbye to her best friend, Joe

By Christopher Nyerges 02/04/2010

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Not long ago I was driving in my neighborhood and saw Prudence Boczarski-Daniel walking her dog Joe. But something was different. Prudence had Joe on a leash, as usual, but his rear feet were in a wheeled cart. “What’s this all about?” I wondered as I pulled over.

Prudence told me that Joe had had problems with one of his rear legs for a long time, and that just that week the other leg gave out. Her beautiful 11-year-old pit bull could no longer walk. Since Prudence knew how much Joe enjoyed his walks, she found a way to continue taking him out by putting his rear end in a cart and letting him walk with his front legs. I was laughing at the sight of this, but it was really very sad.

A week later I got a call from Prudence to inform me that Joe had died. She asked me if I would help her with a “fauneral,” a memorial service for her dog.

The next day, we dug a hole in a non-profit’s wildlife sanctuary and buried Joe — wrapped in one of Prudence’s aprons — near an avocado tree Prudence had recently planted. 

On the following Saturday, Prudence invited Joe’s friends and family to the fauneral. It was a wonderful outdoor event in the wooded hills, where you could hardly believe you were in the city. As guests arrived, they were greeted to the lovely violin of Nicole Deweese, and everyone sat on hay bales covered with old carpets around Joe’s gravesite.

Prudence began by sharing some dog poetry and then everyone got to hear about Joe’s long life as Prudence’s best friend (next to her husband). It was a beautiful ceremony, with more than a few tears in the crowd. I have been to human funerals that had less feeling.

Prudence had a large poster with photographs set up so everyone could see images of Joe’s life. A candle was lit and placed on the large rock over Joe’s grave. Mugwort was burning, giving the aroma of a church ceremony. Prudence then had participants plant a rose and various herbs over Joe’s grave. A red brick had the name “JOE” laboriously carved onto its surface. Then, while everyone watered the plants, there was more of the angelic music of Nicole Deweese to close the ceremony.

Afterwards, we discussed how that spot will always be special to Prudence. This embodied a principle of permaculture of replenishing the land. Even in her bereavement, Prudence Boczarski-Daniel practiced sound ecology in how the body was dealt with, providing, in a death, a living example for others.

Christopher Nyerges is the editor of Wilderness Way magazine and director of the School of Self-reliance. He can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or christophernyerges.com.

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