Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Duke the Fallen Dog

Tonight is a sad night.

Duke is one of our "No More Dogs Dogs" after we had to euthanize Rahab.

Duke has lived with us for over three years now. It became obvious after we adopted him that he was severely beaten as a puppy. After three years he still barks at me when I enter the house and, depending on what I'm wearing and how I stand, will growl at me, and cower and run out the dog door in my presence. But he has gotten to the point that, in certain circumstances, he will also sit in my lap and lick my hand and nuzzle me. Every sign of dog affection has been a landmark event with him.

Today he bit one of our friends (that he had met very recently and was fine with) and we had to take her to Urgent Care. Its not the first time he's nipped at someone recently. It seems in the process of getting "well" he's become less fearful of strangers and even people he's met before that he fears for some reason. I have to believe he means well, if I can project human reasoning on a dog.

I tend to go the second, third and fourth mile with people. I know we are all broken. I know human beings do strange and sometimes aggressive things because they have been broken.

But tonight, my wife and I have decided we need to put Duke down. We have too many people in our house, including children. As much as we love Duke, he is dangerous. If we take him to the pound and disclose his history, they'll "destroy" him anyway. So, in the next day or two, we'll take him to the vet and we'll be the last human beings he'll see... two human beings who didn't beat him, and cared enough to make his last breath among people a painless one.

I hate what was done to him that made him fearful and aggressive. I hate the person who beat him and broke him. I hate what was done to that person that made him beat a dog. I hate that he is a dog and is only being a damaged dog. I hate that I have to make this decision.

Tomorrow after work, I'll dig his grave in our pet cemetery.

Damn it. He's my dog.


Fr. John McCuen said...

So sorry to hear about Duke, Steve. I don't doubt that you've made the right decision; but that doesn't make it any easier. Your insight is appreciated -- we seldom think of ourselves in terms of being fearful, and how we bark and nip and even bite -- in human ways of course! -- and so we don't think to do what human beings are, perhaps, uniquely equipped to do: go to the Healer of our souls, and then maybe, maybe, our behavior will change.

The love that has been shared between you, your family, and Duke is a precious and wonderful gift that need never die. I hope that, in some way, Duke will be at peace.

-C said...

I'm so sorry about this, Steve. I've been there (with my first cat, and we put him down in the prime of his life for the same reason).

It's so hard, but you are doing the right thing.

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

Sorry to hear it Steve. It is always tough to lose family, even the canine variety.

gAbe said...

goodbye Duke...even though you never came into the same room as me when i visited you.

elizabeth said...

Sorry to hear. That is really hard. I will pray for you today.

Elizabeth said...

I am so sorry you have to do this, Steve, but i don't see what else you can do.
At least Duke has known love in your family, after all his previous suffering.

My prayers for your family.

Kirk said...

I'm sorry that you have to do this, Steve. My wife and I had to put down a cat that had feline leukemia, and it wasn't easy.

With regard to postlapsarian pets, I wonder if my Labrador's tendency to dig holes all over the yard has to do with the fall. My other dog is losing his struggle (well, actually, there is no struggle) with sloth.

Dion said...

That stinks. Ever since we brought our newborn daughter home last year we've always kept an eye on our chow mix Emma Jean, a rescue dog with a not to hot history either, to make sure nothing bad happens. I don't want to have to do what you are having to do, it would break my heart because she really is a good dog at heart. So far, it looks like things are going well, thank God, and Emma and Ava are getting along just fine. I'm sorry that things aren't going so well for Duke, but you are making the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Dion, do be watchful of Emma Jean. Duke is a mixture of lab and chow, and I think it is the chow part that is surfacing more in recent months. I have seen him changing and have puzzled about it...growling at other dogs at the dog park, where he used to just stay back and watch the others play, mounting (though he doesn't have any equipment) for dominance purposes...quite a change. Thank you all for your sympathy and good wishes and prayers. It is heartbreaking to do this to our trusting, loving dog. But we have to be able to trust our dogs...Lord, have mercy.

-Peggy, the wife

Catrin said...

Steve - so sorry to hear that this step is needed. It is sad that it is needed, but it is the right, the responsible, thing to do. So often the right thing is also the hardest thing to do.

s-p said...

Thank you, all. I'll ditto the Wifey's warning, Dion. Chows are sketchy and protective. Its hard to do this because its been such a tough thing for him to learn to trust people and be a "dog". Now that he's letting me pet him etc. he turns aggressive even with people who have come over to the house before. Sigh. The sprinkler is running in the corner of the yard to soften the ground today. Every time I look at him I'm overwhelmed with sadness at the fallen world and what it demands us to choose.

James the Thickheaded said...

My Schipperke doesn't recognize us when we go outside... but barks like we're strangers. I wonder about his eyesight... so I wonder about Duke's too. The Chow tie-in... of course.. and the abuse paints a different picture. The behavior at the dog park, but only to a point... and that's the point where it's all a change.

I know how painful this is. He's a member of the family... and we all want to give him another chance. Then again... the signs are all there...

Will pray for you,.. and for Duke... I don't know if it's canonical... but it still seems right as one of God's creatures.

Jenny Hainsworth said...

Lovely post, beautifully expressed. It reminds me of that Dylan song, "Everything is Broken".

God bless, and thanks from a 'fan'/ sister in Christ.