Monday, June 22, 2009

All Dogs Go to Heaven

I knew it was inevitable even when we let the veterinarian talk us out of it. I lived with Duke, she didn't. "He was fine with our male staff", she said, "I think that is a good sign he is trainable." Yes, he was fine with people who deal with skittish animals for a living. I see him with people who are afraid of large barking dogs. I see him lunge at people who he perceives as invading our home. I see him cower and growl at people who live here. But we hoped against hope. We talked to the trainer. She said six home visits and we'd still have to board him if we ever had our grandkids visit, just to be safe. (What about other people's kids? I thought.) I scoured the internet for "Dog Whisperer" tips and tricks. Abused dogs who fear bite are basically incurable, even with the best help a re-trained dog can never be fully trusted. Don't give them to a shelter and pass your problem on to someone else, they all said.

Today we took Duke back to the vet. The one we first saw refused to do the euthanasia. Another one did it for us. He told us of a childhood friend who had half her face bitten off by a Saint Bernard because she reached for its bone. He said this is the hardest decision to make with a pet, but the right one. We thanked him.

I sat on the floor with Duke, my arm around him. He licked my hand as I petted him. I remembered the first year after we brought him home from the dog pound. He would not come near me. Every inch he got closer over the months was a victory of trust, love, gentleness and patience with him. It almost brought me to tears the day he jumped up on the couch with me, laid his head in my lap and let me pet him as he dozed off.

Today he was in a strange place. His tail was down, between his legs. His head was down and his back haunches quivered. He hung close to us. I got down on the floor and he came up and sat next to me. I was his comforter, not his feared abuser. I put my arm around him and scratched behind his ears as the vet inserted the needle with a sedative into his front leg. Duke looked up at me then slumped down and laid his head in my lap. The vet inserted the next needle. As I petted him, Duke went to sleep.

We took him home and buried him. I read Psalm 103/4. "O that sinners would be consumed from the earth and that the wicked be no more". O that the person who beat this dog would be consumed. O that the sorrow and anger I have at the fallen cosmos be consumed by the love of God. O that the damage I have done in this world be consumed by forgiveness and mercy. O that all things will be well, O that all will be well.

Rest in peace, Dukie. Be at peace. Some day, all of us will be well. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. Even in dogs.



(A podcast here)

21 comments:

Fr. John McCuen said...

I'm so sorry, Steve.

Lord, have mercy...

Sophocles said...

I really feel you.

mamajuliana said...

So sorry..

Gabriel said...

Sleep sweetly Duke

elizabeth said...

So sorry to hear. This is sad. But I do think our pets go to heaven. My small prayers.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I am so sorry.

A very hard decision, but almost certainly the wisest, under the circumstances. My cousin's young toddler had his nose bitten off by a fearful/aggressive dog.

Prayers for you and your family.....

David T said...

I'm so sorry.

Papa John said...

Steve,

So sorry for your loss. We went through this with our aggressive half lab, half St Bernard last year. He was great with us and even our 6 year old, but with strangers he was aggressive. I left him at the shelter hoping he would pass their temperament test. He didn't and you know the rest. Again, I am sorry for your loss.

Fr John

Mimi said...

I'm so sorry.

Roman Orthodox Church Newsletter said...

I too am sorry.
I understand your loss. Be blessed, you and your family.

Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

I'm so sorry.

Catrin said...

I am very sorry for your loss. It seems that the right thing to do is almost always the hardest.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on Catrin - it's so hard when it comes to this.
You're all in our prayers.

Andrea Elizabeth said...

:(

Anonymous said...

It was one of the worst days of my life. This was one of those times when logic had to rule. It ruled our actions, but not our feelings by any means.
I prayed to Ss. Seraphim and Herman to meet Duke and to comfort him, but I felt no peace. I prayed for the Lord to have mercy, but felt no comfort, only sharp, desperate grief.
I couldn't stuff my sobs, I couldn't be stoic and cheerful for Duke's sake like I wanted to be.
It's going to take awhile for this sorrow to abate. Thank God that we don't have to "feel" the right way to be loved by Him or to be heard.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and sympathy.

-Peggy Robinson

elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy - I can relate to your (P.R.) feelings of grief. Jesus wept and I think we can follow suit. My small prayers.

Ryan said...

So sorry my friend.

yudikris said...

I am so sorry :(

David Bryan said...

This is late, I know, but...I'm so, so sorry. My childhood dog was put down after a fleadip made him seizure and snap at people.

Lord, have mercy.

Sean said...

I listened to this yesterday and man did it hurt. I am the owner of an abused Pitbull/Lab mix who is great around kids and Women. But with me, it took months before he would come near me.

I feel your pain Steve and I am sorry.

s-p said...

Thanks Sean. Keep an eye on your dog. Duke was the same way, good with kids and women, but for some reason he short circuited. The fallen world is a sad and brutal place sometimes.