Today was a rough one. A beautiful brindle Pit Bull, with whom I’d made a tenuous connection over the past two weeks, was put down. The last thing the dog felt was my hands stroking his head. The last voice he heard was mine, telling him he was a beautiful animal. The vet tech was exceptionally tender and gentle. The passing was quiet, peaceful. It was a good death.
Earlier this week I wrote a letter to Susan Reimer of The Baltimore Sun. She’d written a column lamenting the suffering of Michael Vick and I’d challenged her on some of the points she made. But there was one passage in her piece I’d neglected to address, and it kept swirling in my mind as I sat there stroking the dying dog:
For Michael Vick’s dogs, the suffering ended in death or rescue. I don’t think it is ever going to end for this man.
I don’t know if this dog had been used for fighting, but my guess is that he wasn’t. I do know he’d been treated poorly enough that by the time he arrived at the shelter, he was shut down to the point of being completely unresponsive.
I visited him four times on four different occasions. The first two times he barely lifted his eyes as I cooed at him softly from outside his kennel. On my third visit, he sort of slinked toward the treats I tossed in, but didn’t eat them. The fourth visit, however, he crept toward me and licked up the bits of wet food I put in his bowl.
I understand why the decision was made to euthanize him. I don’t fault the shelter. In fact I’m grateful they did everything they could to make the dog’s final weeks comfortable, safe, and devoid of fear. My issue remains with Ms. Reimer who seems to think death is an acceptable end to suffering.
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the dog before he passed. There’s nothing to mark his existence, save the faded red collar he’d worn. Perhaps the only people that will mourn or even remember him are the three of us who held him as he died. And so, while it’s true his suffering has ended, it’s little comfort, Ms. Reimer, that a good death was the best thing he ever knew.