Sanctuary Dog Mourns His Animal Friends by Staying by Their Side

Tricycle sleeps on Vixen's grave. CROPPED for social tease only.
Tricycle the dog stretched over a grave.
This week, Tricycle mourned the loss of his friend, an alpaca named Vixen. Horse Creek Stable Rescue Sanctuary

The horses, llamas, donkeys and dogs who arrive at Horse Creek Stable Rescue Sanctuary are often sick, battered or just plain tired.

Lester Aradi, a retired police chief, along with his wife Diane, makes sure no one lets them down again.

The refuge for special needs animals they founded in Georgia's Blue Ridge mountains is a bustling 35-acre beacon of new beginnings.

But there are endings here, too.

When they pass, the animals are buried on a slight hillside overlooking the pastures. Graves for dogs are lined up in a row. Burials for bigger animals — horses, llamas, alpacas — are marked with a fruit tree. Lester and Diane see it as a symbol of the circle of life.

"We just try to honor them that way," Lester tells MNN.

Lester and Diane Aradi always dreamed of moving to the country. But they never imagined they would have so much company. Horse Creek Stable Bed and Breakfast

But the most obvious marker for a fresh grave will be a 3-legged golden retriever named Tricycle. When an animal dies, he mourns them — sometimes for as long as three days — by stretching across the grave.

Recently, he's been spending his time at Vixen's grave.

"We lost Vixen," Aradi explains to MNN. "She was an older girl. An alpaca. Within an hour of her dying, we had a neighbor come with a backhoe and dug the grave."

They planted the customary fruit tree.

Not long after that, Lester went out to feed the llamas. He gazed towards the hillside and, sure enough, "there's Tricycle laying on Vixen's grave."

"I don't know if he can sense it, smell it, or whatever, But I think he was grieving. That was his way of saying goodbye."

And Tricycle has said it many times before. The first time was back when his friend Major died. A St. Bernard-mastiff mix, Major arrived at the farm nearly broken.

"He was brought here with back issues. He was abused. He couldn't walk any more."

Tricycle and Major became fast friends.

"When Major died, we buried him here on the farm," Lester says. "Tricycle went over and laid on his grave for about three days. He would come into the house. But every time he was outside, he would go to his grave and lay on it."

Tricycle the dog stretched over a grave.
After Major died, Tricycle spent three days at his grave. Horse Creek Stable Rescue Sanctuary

Lester posted a picture of Tricycle mourning Major on Horse Creek Stable's Facebook page back in 2017. Not long after that, a dog rescue group got in touch with him. They loved the photo. They thought maybe Lester and Diane could take in another three-legged dog who could really use a second chance in life.

And so, Romeo arrived at the farm. Naturally, Tricycle bonded with his new friend — a golden retriever just like him.

Circle of life, indeed.