Only another ugly memory

It’s been well over twelve hours and I’m still having trouble processing last night. I’m going to write this now before the tequila I’ve lately been drinking starts processing brain cells.

Rather than come up with a long original explanation of what happened last night I’ll just paste a redacted version of an email I sent a friend earlier…

FYI I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this but Laddie stopped being able to breathe last night around eight. I kept waiting for it to stop; he had a couple of spells like that on Wednesday. But this didn’t stop – he kept whooping and gagging, getting more frantic and terrified and exhausted, it just went on and on.

By 2 AM he was just croaking, still at the same rhythm as when it started. He seemed to be getting just enough air to not die, it was torture. And 2 AM is when I led him outside and put him out of his misery.

I could have maybe kept him alive until this morning and [Neighbor L] would have driven us to a vet. That was my plan last night. But it sure wouldn’t have been the kind thing to do, he was really suffering.

Never did sleep; I started digging his grave (next to [Ghost], by the fence) at first light and finished up around 8:30. So that’s done but it’s probably going to be a while before the whole thing is only another ugly memory. Probably best to just spend the weekend by myself.

I don’t recall ever hearing of a dog that got so sick so fast.

So that happened. Talk among yourselves, I guess we’ve disproved my hypothesis about the blog being a block to Murphy.

Am I the only person in history to have shot a Corgi? Because who does that? I typed that, and now I want to throw up.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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68 Responses to Only another ugly memory

  1. Eric says:

    Sorry uncle Joel, wish I had some words but I don’t. You did the right thing by Laddie FWIW.

  2. Ben says:

    You were kind to Laddie, and you did everything that was in your power to do for him. You did that not only in his recent illness, but ever since he came to live with you. Now it’s time to be good to Joel. Start by getting some sleep!

  3. Claire says:

    You did a kindness. I know you half hate yourself, both for doing it and perhaps for not doing it sooner, before Laddie was in extremis. I know the image of what you did will haunt you forever, as will Laddie’s last hours.

    You couldn’t possibly have known Laddie would suffer so much, so quickly.

    But you stepped up. You’ve talked for years about responsibility and you’ve lived a responsible life. Last night you took the ultimate responsibility.

    It’s hell. But you accepted it. We should all be so courageous when our worst moments come. I don’t know whether I would be.

  4. Jeffersonian says:

    He woke up in Doghalla, with cattle to chase out of the yard.

  5. Claire said it better than I could. You did the loving kindness for TB and now he’s at peace. I’m crying for you and praying that you can find peace in time.

  6. Robert says:

    What Claire said. So sorry. You did the hard but best thing, Joel.

  7. M says:

    Dammit. Done it, heartbreaking memory.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Requiescat in pace

  9. Robert says:

    ETA: that “wanting to throw up” thing. IMHO, it’s a sign you recognize the sacredness of life. I am sure your late Cattle Wrangler knew you’re a good guy and trusted you to do right by him, as you did.

  10. Cookie says:

    So sorry for your loss. Just keep the good memories fresh and the bad ones will fade with time.

  11. TK421a says:

    Oh hell Joel, I’m so sorry.

  12. Mark Matis says:

    So sorry for your loss!

  13. terrapod says:

    Ending the suffering is a blessing. Time will dull the loss and the stress will diminish. God gave us a faithful companion but only for a short while, I think it keeps us humans humble. Dusty in here all of a sudden. Get some rest and dream of the good times. In time a new companion will show up to brighten the lair.

  14. fitz says:

    Mana Liberty would be grateful. You gave him a good home. And when it really mattered, you took on a pain of your own so his could end. I know from experience that it doesn’t feel like it right now, but today you were a good man who did right by a friend.

  15. Judy says:

    Claire said it well. Hugs for comfort and some prayers that you can find peace. And Murphy is a mean-spirited ass.

  16. Bill says:

    I’ve only ever put one dog out of his misery, that was 50 plus years ago. Hated doing it, but knew it was the right thing to do. That’s what responsible folks do. Over 50 years ago and I still remember that day with sadness. So I understand how you feel Joel, and hope having done what was needful, will eventually bring you some peace.

  17. says:

    That is really terrible. So very sorry.

  18. PaulB says:

    Sorry for your loss. Laddie is in a better place.

  19. Phil says:

    Am I the only one who has ever had to shoot a Pomeranian?
    It ain’t easy Joel but you did the little dude a favor. Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, I will say out loud that I would want someone to do that for me if I ever get that bad.
    Finish the bottle man. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

  20. Jon says:

    Aw, man. I’m sorry that happened. We do what we have to do for them.

  21. Tennessee Budd says:

    Joel, I’m sorry you (and Laddie) had to go through that. The only possible consolation, and it’s a poor one, is that he is at peace.

  22. Mark says:

    Sorry, Joel. You did right.

  23. Joel, You’re a good compassionate man. Hats off to you in your time of grief.

  24. Harold Maddock says:

    Joel, I have been in your position. Fortunately I was able to get an overnight emergency Vet to put her down. I mourn with you and salute your courage to end his suffering. I’ll probably cry on and off all night.

  25. DaveS says:

    Dang. Sorry to hear about this. You’re a good man and you did what needed to be done. The healing takes longer. When Grace comes knocking at the door, just open the door a crack and let it start working. Peace.

  26. Anonymous says:

    So sorry to hear this, Joel. Laddie needed you, and you came through for him, no matter what. You’re a good man, better than I am, or many others, no matter how you’re feeling about what you had to do. So, grieve for him. You and Laddie were lucky to have found each other.

    RIP to him.

  27. SLee says:

    Oh Joel, I am so sorry. You did the right thing, and Laddie is no longer suffering.

  28. Tsgt Joe says:

    You asked about a dog getting sick so fast. Had a little poodle that was healthy, bouncing around enjoying his walk at 1pm, started throwing up at 2pm, very sick and rushed to the vets at 4pm. then we ran him down to Saginaw to an animal hospital where a vet stayed with him overnight but couldnt stabilize him so at 7am we held him while they put him to sleep. That was 2 years ago and I’m crying as I write this and still hearing my wife, as she held him, whispering in his ear; I love you pretty boy, I love you. We invest our love and then they leave us, it’s hard man, I get it. Take care brother.

  29. EJ says:

    So sorry. That’s one of the toughest things I can fathom doing. It was the right call, but I’m so sorry you have the memory now. Please try to rest and in time you will be able to focus on the happy memories.

  30. John says:

    Damn hell of a time to catch up today, after two month behind on a blog I’ve followed for years. Laddie, Cattle Wrangler in the sky? Might forward take to looking toward Ursa Minor and think of Little Bear and TB. Joel, I think you are an excellent writer and an honorable man.

  31. JayBee says:

    I’m so sorry Joel. You did right by Laddie, and did so at the hardest possible time. It was a kindness.

  32. Frank says:

    It seems you have just joined the frat that many are long members of and many more will join at some time or another. It’s the job, we don’t like it but we do it because we must. Be well

  33. Pingback: RIP to you, Laddi | Survival Wheels

  34. robert orians says:

    This brings back memories I would rather not have . My prayers for you brother . It hurts !

  35. Spud says:

    They say , to embrace the suck…
    Losing our furry little buddies sucks to embrace !
    Feeling for ya …

  36. Ro says:

    You’re gonna hate yourself for a long time and no matter how many of us tell you it was the most merciful thing you could, and it was, it’ll not ease the pain of having to put down a friend. This is why most people get the vet to do it. It eases both their and the dogs suffering. Despite how lousy you currently feel just remember your friend isn’t in pain, isn’t feeling panic and terror anymore and what’s more he was with his friend right until the end.

  37. John Venlet says:

    Tough thing to have to do, Joel. Hang in there.

  38. B says:

    It is a hard thing to do what needs to be done.

    But it takes courage to do it.

    I am sorry for your loss. And proud of you for having the strength to do it.

    I’m in for a monument plate, should you need some funds. You have my email

  39. bmq215 says:

    I’m so sorry, Joel. You did the right thing for him.

  40. LibertyNews says:

    Ditto what Claire said. Hang in there, and thanks for sharing Laddie’s life with the rest of us.

  41. winston smith says:

    It doesnt matter How, only that you relieved TB of his terrible suffering. That is the single hardest thing a man can do, outside of his children. NEVER beat yourself up for what had to be done. Remember the good times and celebrate the time you had with him.

  42. bill says:

    My thoughts are with you, Joel. I bet that if we could every one of us would be packing your driveway to be there for you and to pay our respects for Laddie right now. The older I get the more I realize it is animals that taught me so many of life’s lessons. All my love from the woods of East Texas.

  43. jabrwok says:

    Nothing I can say but “you have my condolences”. :-(.

  44. Swami Rabbitima says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  45. doubletrouble says:

    Everyone has already said it, so I’ll just add my condolences.
    I’m sorry, Joel.

  46. RCPete says:

    Sorry to hear Laddie’s fate, but you did the best you could for him. That hole in your heart will heal, eventually. (Had to do the same for two of my cats years ago. It hurts, but it’s what needed to be done.)

  47. Anonymous says:

    What Phil said, except I hope you didn’t finish the bottle.

  48. lb says:

    I am so sorry, Joel. You did what you had to do. Laddie was lucky to have you. He is with ML now.
    Get some sleep. Tomorrow will be easier.

  49. Debbie says:

    I’m so terribly sorry.

  50. lb says:

    You should eat something. Food will soak up some of the tequila. God bless you both.

  51. eli says:

    What Claire said.
    I wasnt yet 7 when i learned about the responsibilities a person takes on when they take a domesticated animal into their care.
    A vet to make the last minutes less traumatic is not always an option, an accursed fact of life.
    Its been nearly fifty years and a number of times since, and the only consolation i ever get out of it is the fact that someone needs to be there for the dog in the time they most need someone.
    To Torso Boy, he had him a person to care for, and that person cared back.

  52. nww says:

    I have followed your blog for a long, long time now and this will be my first comment. I am so sorry to read of TB’s last few days, it has been tragic to follow. Yes, having to put down a pet is a terrible thing, I know the feeling. However, when it needs to be done you just have to own it. Take care and continue with your blog you have a great gift as a wordsmith.

  53. Tahn says:

    Farm euthanasia is often the only available option, when its time. I disagree that it may be harder on the animal. With a chemical, there is often the moment of fear when it senses some thing “wrong” . Not so with rural methods. It is most certainly harder on the human.

    MamaLiberty stressed “personal responsibility” and you know she would be approving and thanking you Joel. But damn it’s hard for us rural types sometimes. This I know from our family Sheppard and my best friend, who stayed with me after the family broke up. But it was time. I steeled myself before and cried after. but her howling pain stopped in an instant.

    Then yesterday, I learned that my only nephew died quickly and too young.

    Thoughts and prayers Bro.


  54. WolfSong says:

    My condolences…for Laddie’s death and for you having to do it.
    It never gets easier, but unfortunately it sometimes falls upon us to do it.
    Be gentle with yourself.

  55. Caren says:

    I wish I could say you get used to people and animals dying. I never have. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter” My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person or pet. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars show that you have lived and loved.

    As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float.

    In the beginning, grief crashes down and drowns you. But in between the grief there is life. After a while, the waves come further apart and you can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. It always comes and then it washes away and you know you will survive them.
    When I feel like I want to lock myself away so that I never hurt again, I remember this one.

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of yourself. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

  56. You did what had to be done. Waiting would have been cruel. And you did it from love, so stop beating yourself.

    I read somewhere on the Intertubz that whenever a pet dies, it takes a piece of your heart with it. Truer words. But I’ve also discovered when the inevitable now one comes into your life, it brings back that piece with interest. Just wait for it.

  57. RD says:

    When I lost my corgi it was also somewhat sudden and in the middle of the night. My blog post was long so I won’t quote it here, but this was the ending…

    Dear Lord God in Heaven,
    If there’s a place in Heaven for Dogs, take my dear friend Fuzz-Butt. Let him play and live with our other pets Sasha and Mozart. Let him be pain free and happy. Hold him in your care until we meet him again.

  58. rickr says:

    Joel, ever since Laddie came to the desert I’ve looked forward to reading every new adventure of his. I’ve also had to do the deed, and everyone who’s beaten me here has expressed my sadness at this. Be gracious to yourself, know that you did the right thing for him as best you could, and ride out the storm. Blessings,

  59. charboord says:

    Oh Joel, I’m crying, for you and for Laddie. He was a good boy.

  60. Michael says:

    You’ve had a heavy load on your shoulders for a long time Joel. You did not need this sucker punch to the gut. You did what you had to and now you are left with the tears. We all are. I know I am not alone in saying that we wish somehow we could help you ease the hurt.

  61. Cliff says:

    Friends help friends no matter how hard it is. Laddie had a good friend.

  62. Dammit. I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain and heartache you’re going thru.

  63. Robert Evans says:

    I’m sorry about your loss. It’s something I’ve had to do myself, with a cat that had been hit by a car. Heinlein apparently dealt with it, also, as he had this to say: “When the need arises – and it does – you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out – that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it

    The situation might arise again should you decide to acquire another pet, so any such decision should be carefully considered.

    My apologies if this causes pain. It is certainly not my intention.

  64. jed says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Joel, and for the sudden and unpleasant circumstance. I can’t add to what’s been said above, but I hope you can find comfort from the wisdom, once the bottle is empty.

  65. Malatrope says:

    My last dog was a shepherd mix, and the urge to herd and protect was strong in him. He accepted that I was the alpha male in the family, and he was the loyal #2. We had a small fenced area that he protected, even after there were no sheep left to watch, and he would lie down atop his special boulder that was high enough that he could see all the corners of the property. Whenever I had to go to the store, he would go to his rock and assume a guard position until I got back home, when he would happily relinquish the responsibility and go back to whatever he was doing.

    One day, I went to the grocery store, and when I got back there he was on his rock. He gave me a whiff and a nod to hand over the command, and laid down behind the rock while I took in bags of groceries.

    When I got back out, he was dead.

    I’ve never forgotten “Conan”. He was the most loyal, most capable, and most honorable animal I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. He even saved me the pain of having to put him down, never once showing any pains of his own, stout-hearted and stoic for as long as he breathed.

    I buried him there, next to his guard rock, deeply enough that he will never be disturbed. And now I have tears in my eyes again, nearly twenty years later.

  66. midwestmike says:

    Sorry Joel. Sometimes life is just plan hard. Time will heal you and give you peace.

  67. Robert says:

    Malatrope: If only more humans were worthy of a companion like Conan. Damn. Dusty in here.

  68. Mike says:

    Sorry. Its hard to do that.
    I’ve done it myself 3 times and used the vet 2 times. Can’t tell the difference in how I felt afterward, just as crappy either way.
    Look after yourself.

To the stake with the heretic!