Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Putting Dogs Down

Today's major task is to put down one of our dogs.  He entered our household as a young dog.  He came with issues but we worked around them.  In retrospect his dysfunctions may have been manifestations of dysfunctions within our family.  Perhaps Oreo was like the swine in Mark 5:9-13

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” The unclean Spirit replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned.
 If so, the Oreo was a hero.

He is now thirteen or fourteen.  His "nipping" graduated to full-fledged biting.  He broke the skin on Kubota's wrist.

It is time.

Telling kids

One of the hardest things has been telling the kids, but not for the reasons you think.

At this point, there is little love for the dog.  But we still owe the dog dignity and we have very different views of what that entails.

Having been the guy who transported various sick, broken, and old dogs to the vet for that final time....they know.  It is not the clean, antiseptic, painless procedure that my kids want to envision.  The dogs know.

My vision of a dignity is to walk the dog out to a favorite place, one where he has busted pheasant and bunnies.  Tie a long leash to a tree.  Sit down about twenty yards away.  Let the dog explore and settle down. It might take a minute.  It might take half an hour. Say good-bye and pull the trigger.

I have done the deed both ways and much prefer the second way.


It strikes me as ironic that the second way will put some people in a tizzy.  Fortunately, I don't think very many of those people read my blog.

In my mind's eye, those people are pro-euthanasia and pro-abortion.  In theory they are all for dignity, self-determination and clinical efficiency.  They really want to forget that there are people in the loop actually doing those things.

It is the same naive thinking that cause people to imagine that flushing waste down a toilet makes it cease to exist, that they will always have reliable power at every receptical without dead birds/fish/lizards or carbon emmissions somewhere, that every farmer in Iowa can switch to growing environmentally friendly baby-salad mix and they will still have bacon bits to sprinkle on top..

As a young person I did not understand how the old guys could put their own dogs down.  I have a better understanding now.

How Much Information

Much discussion passed between Mrs ERJ and me regarding how much to tell the kids and when to tell them.  My inclination was full disclosure but I am deferring to her judgement in this regard.

Mrs ERJ's concern is that their anxiety will rise to a crescendo and they will be debilitated by the knowledge.  Her thinking is that it should almost be like a dog getting hit by a car.  You just never know when a dog will see another dog on the other side of the street and dart across.

The kids know.  They know that it will be this week.

The Remains

Forgive the pun but the remains remain a challenge.  The ground is frozen.  Part of my job will be to find a suitable place to inter his remains.  We have ten acres, much of which is scenic.

When my time comes I want my remains to be planted someplace where the soil needs the fertility...much like Mark Twain's aunt who was planted beneath the grapevines.

A final lesson

Advanced age is not a license to snap at people.  I will be well advised to keep this in mind as I get older.  After all, what comes around goes around.


Oreo was buried beneath a young Burr Oak (Q. macrocarpa) on a rise in the southwest corner of my property.

He will get a log cairn over his remains and I planted a ByronGold plum to mark the spot.  I wanted something that attracts raccoons, possum and squirrels and has attractive flowers in the spring.


  1. In all this vast universe, there is no spot so void, so empty, as that place by the stove where the dog slept, when the dog is sleeping someplace else, forever.