Man discovers old tombstone deep in the woods – takes a closer look and reads the sweetest message
A few years ago, on what seemed like a routine walk in the woods, photographer Sid Saunders’ breath caught in his throat.
It was while taking a detour from the usual path – one intended to avoid big puddles of rain on the track – that his foot struck something hard.
At first glance, Sid thought he’d simply kicked a wayward stump, but upon closer inspection he realized this was no old tree protruding from the earth.
No … it was a small tombstone, one so covered in moss that it was barely discernible from the forest itself.
Saunders was captivated. He couldn’t help himself, and so examined the stone further.
He noticed how dirty and mossy it was, so decided that he was going to restore the tombstone to its former glory.
“I made a point of going back the next day and cleaned it up, plus the area around it,” Saunders said to The Dodo.
It was when he began to remove the foliage and the moss that he spotted the barely legible inscription on the tombstone.
By the time all the grime had been removed, Saunders became acutely aware that this was no common burial site. It was a tombstone dedicated to a loved one who had passed in 1882.
“In memory of the little Duchie,” the headstone read.
Before long, Saunders knew who it was that had been buried over 130 years ago.
Beside the text was carved a small picture of a rabbit, and then: “Born August 1869. Died December 1882.”
Saunders initially presumed the tiny tomb must belong to a dog, but it transpired it was the last resting place of something decidedly smaller.
“I was gobsmacked!” Saunders said. “When I went back and cleaned it up, I saw the little carving of a rabbit and realized that [he must have been] a Dutch breed rabbit.”
Dutch rabbits are popular pets, easily identifiable by their color pattern. At one time they were the most popular of all rabbit breeds, with a good many breeders in England.
In the right circumstances, pet rabbits can live to be 10 or more. Duchie, fortunately, had lived to the ripe old age of 13, and must have been loved dearly by his family.
“[He] must have been well looked after to live so long,” Saunders told The Dodo.
The land Duchie was buried on has been part of private property since the 19th century, according to Sid.
It’s highly likely that the rabbit was kept by the owners of the land. These days, the area is full of hiking trails for people to walk upon, though – at least to Sid – it didn’t appear as though anyone had seen Duchie’s grave in quite a long time.
Sid Saunders’ fine discovery is one all animal lovers can enjoy … even if it was 130 years in the making.
A huge thanks to Sid for giving Duchie’s grave the clean it needed.
Anyone who has had/or still has a pet, will know the special bond that can form between humans and animals.