Today, I killed my dog

When it comes to pet euthanasia, people use all sorts of euphemisms: “put to sleep”, “put down”, etc. Even “euthanasia” is a fancy way of using old words as a euphemism.

The bald truth is that I killed my dog by paying a vet to do the deed.

It was painless. It was quick. He was unaware and unafraid as he passed.

But I killed him as surely as if I had pressed the syringe plunger myself. Think of it as command responsibility. I do.

Yes, he was in a lot of pain. Yes, he had a chronic inflammatory condition known in his breed as “Sheltie Disease”. Yes, it left him covered in scabs and with pained joints, and also brought a yeasty eau-de-Sheltie that really could chase you out of a room. No, the steroids weren’t working with anywhere near the effectiveness and duration as they had in the beginning.

As the vet said, if he wasn’t suffering, she wouldn’t do the procedure. Instead, she told me over and over that he was suffering and that it was time.

I have tried to make it clear to my children, via words and action, that we are stewards and caretakers of all lives we have jurisdiction over. Whether an animal is a companion or intended for food, our responsibility is to make sure they are as free from want, fear, and hardship as we can possibly make them within the bounds of their intended purpose.

Dogs, though. Dogs are more, always more: symbiotic with humanity, creatures of utility and comfort for millennia. Family members who protect, support, and interact with us in our daily lives. Bringers of capability, joy, and frustration, they fill voids we do not realize we had.

Indy was not supposed to be my dog. He did not know that, and Shelties are kind of one-person dogs, or at least one family with a particular favorite.

He trusted me. To the absolute end, he trusted me. And I did my best. I tried to be good and strong and loving for him, but I could not fix him – could not heal him.

In the end, I had to see the truth of what my wife was telling me. That, although his eyes were bright and his ears erect, his every move was pain and the other dogs were making it worse for him by preying on his weakness. His skin would never be right. He would always itch, continuously lick, and eventually he would not be able to manage the steps to our bedroom anymore.

That it was time to let him go instead of making him suffer due to my reluctance to commit the final act.

There were many kinds words spoken to me as I stroked him. Attempts to displace my pain as he breathed his last.

In the whole, they were correct. This was a necessary action to keep faith with a simple soul who was suffering but unable to understand why. This is also part of the pact between men and our dogs.

That does not make me feel any better about myself.

I betrayed the trust in his eyes after convincing myself it was the right thing to do.

Even though I had to. Even though by all external reasoning it was the moot and proper thing to do.

I killed my dog.

Oh, God, how I hate myself.

I killed my dog.

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2 Responses to Today, I killed my dog

  1. Dave Freer says:

    You did NOT betray the trust. You took it all on yourself. That takes courage and love.

  2. Loren Cook says:

    I know how you feel. And you conveyed a good amount of love, and anguish, in this post.
    I always ask the vet that I may administer the final shot – “my hand cared for; my hand responsible for the final goodbye”. I felt the same solemnity and sadness when I myself shoveled the dirt over my parent’s graves mixed with the joyous memories that I hold dear and help define me; and hope my son and daughters will honor me by doing such also – a long time from now 😉

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